Kenai Peninsula Fair: More than a fair

  • Photo provided
  • Photo provided
  • Photo provided

Several years ago, realizing that the fairgrounds was much more than “the Ninilchik Fair” and wanting to play a much more supportive role on the Kenai Peninsula as whole, the fair board rewrote its mission statement to be sure it included the entire Kenai Peninsula. 

The Kenai Peninsula Fair’s mission statement now reads: “Connecting the Greater Kenai Peninsula — providing a fun-filled, entertaining, educational and safe environment for the community to come together in part or in whole by means of the Kenai Peninsula Fair and other community events.” 

With this expanded vision, the fair manager began promoting the venue to event organizers. Those efforts have paid off with amazing events taking place at the fairgrounds including Arlo Guthrie and Emmy Lou Harris concerts, orchestra rehearsals, community plays, fundraisers and more.

This past March, BeauSoleil again played on the fairgrounds, this time to a sold-out crowd during the annual fundraiser. Over Memorial Day weekend, Ninilchik Emergency Services hosted its annual pancake breakfast fundraiser and, as I write this, the Trail Blazers’ Horse Camp is in full swing. This is just the beginning of our summer line up. 

Next on our event schedule is the second annual Great Alaska Horse Expo on June 29 and 30. Last year Allison Trimble, originally of Anchor Point, made the decision to come “home” and share everything she had learned with the Kenai Peninsula horse community. She grew up on a horse and attended horse camp at the fairgrounds for many years. This connection made the fairgrounds the perfect place to host the Horse Expo. She has recruited many talented horse trainers and is assembling them at the fairgrounds to share their knowledge with equestrian lovers from across the state. 

On the heels of the Horse Expo will come the annual Ninilchik Rodeo, most commonly known as the Happy Valley Rodeo. The first rodeo was held on the Kenai Peninsula in 1960. It was organized by a group of homesteaders who were homesick for some down-home fun. Every year, cowboys and cowgirls come from all over the state for a little friendly competition. You’ll find everything from bull riding to wild-cow milking at the Ninilchik Rodeo. Participants range in ages from 7 to 70. In my opinion, you haven’t see a rodeo until you’ve seen wild-cow milking.

Hold onto your hats, because there’s more. The third annual Salmonstock music festival is set for Aug. 2-4. The community of Ninilchik can count on more than 3,000 people coming to camp and enjoy three days of “fish, fun and music.” This event is attended by people from all over the state and also draws a lot of people in from the Lower 48. It has become almost as popular as fishing in Ninilchik. Did you know, originally the event sponsor, Renewable Resources Coalition, wanted to rent the fairgrounds for the last weekend of July, but the fair board wasn’t willing to rent the grounds out for an event that would be in direct competition with KBBI’s Concert On the Lawn? 

Wait, there’s more. Everyone’s invited to join in the “clammin’ it up” fun at the Kenai Peninsula Fair Aug. 16-18. This year Kids’ Day is back. Thanks to BP, kids will be free with a donation to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. In addition, the fair has added “Red Shirt Friday,” and asks that everyone wear a red shirt to the fair in support of our troops. Thanks to sponsors, the fair will give $1 to Alaska Healing Hearts for every person wearing red to the fair. We also hope to create a giant sign that reads, “The Kenai Peninsula Supports Our Troops!” It will be 20-by-40-feet and will be flashed at the sky from the main lawn. We are looking for a volunteer to take an aerial photo of it to share around the world. If you are that person, contact the fair office at 907-567-3670.

As you can see, we are striving to bring new events to the peninsula in a community-minded way. If you have an event you would like to hold at the fairgrounds, get in touch with us. We are here for everyone. We belong to the entire peninsula and want you all to take advantage of this amazing facility. See you at the fairgrounds.

Lara McGinnis is the executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Fair, which includes managing all the events that happen at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik.

Fair’s Mission Statement:

“Connecting the Greater Kenai Peninsula —
providing a fun-filled, entertaining, educational and
safe environment for the community to come together
in part or in whole by means of the Kenai Peninsula
 Fair and other community events.”

Upcoming Fairground Events:

June 29 – 30 

Great Alaska Horse Expo

July 6 & 7 

53rd annual Ninilchik Rodeo

August 2 – 4 

Third annual Salmonstock Three days of Fish, Fun and Music

August 16-18 

62nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Fair



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