Bailey Epperheimer and Judah Johnston pose with Epperheimer’s pigs, Maui and Chancho, at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Bailey Epperheimer and Judah Johnston pose with Epperheimer’s pigs, Maui and Chancho, at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Branching out: 4-H Ag Expo to relocate to Soldotna

The Kenai Peninsula Agricultural Expo is moving to Soldotna starting next year through at least 2022

Moo-ve over, folks! The Kenai Peninsula Agricultural Expo is moving to Soldotna starting next year through at least 2022 following a vote in favor by the Soldotna City Council at their Dec. 16 meeting.

The expo, which is usually held in Ninilchik, is a three-day event focused on community agriculture and will include 4-H livestock shows, the annual 4-H livestock auction, educational agriculture presentations, agricultural-based vendor booths, food trucks and other events. The expo will be held at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex during the first week of August 2021 and will require the use of the rodeo grounds, the sports center arena, sports complex side rooms, complex parking lot and possibly the covered connex area behind the center.

In a memo from Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department Director Andrew Carmichael to the council, Carmichael said relocating the expo would not displace other events and would require facility use for about seven days including time allotted for setup and take down.

“Economically speaking it would be at a time after the peak camping season and would likely extend our peak visitor time by another week,” Carmichael wrote. “It would also provide additional reason for people to come to or spend time in Soldotna to ‘check out the EXPO.’”

In a letter to the council, Cassandra Rankin of the Kenai Peninsula District 4-H said that they have an average of 100 youth members each year from seven different 4-H clubs across the peninsula and that they are expecting the event to grow in size in the next few years after relocating to Soldotna.

Members of the Soldotna City Council also voiced their support for the relocation.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for the City of Soldotna to have this in our area,” said Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings. “I think it will also make a lot more money for 4-H because we’re centrally located and people will be more inclined to participate instead of having always to drive to Ninilchik.”

The Kenai Peninsula District 4-H also requested that the city waive the sports center’s rental and use fees for the first two years, according to Carmichael’s memo. The rental fee to be waived would be about $2,500 in addition to labor costs.

“If the Council agrees, the aforementioned fee adjustment/waiver for two years would assist the organization in relocating to Soldotna, with the goal of making Soldotna the permanent location for the AG EXPO,” Carmichael wrote.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the relocation and of waiving rental fees for the first two years.

“I see this as a win-win situation for the city and the 4-H and hope this continues on for many, many years,” said Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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