Fiber arts festival coming up at Ninilchik fairgrounds

The Kenai Peninsula State Fair isn’t just about the annual three-day event that draws a crowd of thousands every August. 

For instance, on March 29 there was a sell-out crowd of hundreds at the fair’s annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner with music by the Grammy winning musical group Beau Soleil and Michael Doucet of New Orleans. The dates will be announced soon for a summer of rodeo events. And on April 20-21, the Fiber Arts Festival will be held in the fair’s Chinook Bay Building from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

“It’s going to be anything using fiber, which could be fabric, yarn or thread,” said organizer Debra Henderson, who is busy getting word of the fair to fiber art guilds, quilting guilds, art shops, 4H groups and artists.

RSVPs are coming back from the Matanuska Valley, Anchorage and from communities on the peninsula. 

Commuknitty Stash is among those that will be on hand, said Sarah Browngoetz, who, along with Jules Joy, owns the Homer-based yarn business. 

“Anytime we can talk to fiber people, that’s great,” said Browngoetz.

She and Joy will be introducing Commuknitty Stash’s Alaskan-grown line and Alaska handpainted yarns, and are considering demonstrations of dying techniques, needle felting and both drop-spindle and wheel spinning.

After receiving multiple requests for local yarns, Browngoetz and Joy have opened their own dye studio and begun painting yarns. Once they found a source for wool in the Kenai Peninsula, they began purchasing the fleece, sending it out of state for scouring and spinning and now offer the locally grown, locally painted yarn for sale.

What makes the Kenai Peninsula State Fibers Arts Festival attractive is the attention it’s getting.

“We actually heard about it from someone in Anchorage,” said Browngoetz. “So it’s got a pretty far reach if people from Anchorage know about it. We’re pretty excited to have a way to introduce our yarns to the rest of the state.”

Henderson is leaving it up to vendors to offer and schedule demonstrations and mini-workshops. Booth space is eight-by-eight feet with one table for $25, with electricity for $35.

For those needing overnight accommodations in Ninilchik, Henderson has compiled a list of bed and breakfasts. Some vendors have indicated they are bringing their motorhomes, even though outdoor restrooms and electricity are not currently available on the fairgrounds.

“We want to increase the fiber arts of our fair exhibits and this will go hand-in-hand with that,” said Henderson of the festival. “I’ll have the fair exhibit guide sections there for people to take.” 

The 2013 Kenai Peninsula State Fair will be August 16-18.

For more information about the upcoming
Kenai Peninsula State Fair Fiber Arts Festival, call (907) 567-3670.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.