Rain or shine — or in Friday’s case, lots of rain — peninsula residents can’t be kept from the annual Kenai Peninsula Fair in Ninilchik.
Fair Manager Mellissa Clark said the pig races are always a crowd favorite. It doesn’t matter whether the pigs are facing the wrong way or not, she said, everyone still has a good time.
“We are famous for our pig races,” Clark said Friday. “You’ll definitely see on Sunday that the pigs actually start to learn which way they’re supposed to be turning.”
Live music and the exhibit halls are among the other top attractions at the fair, Clark said. Though this is her first year as fair manager, she’s no stranger the event by a long stretch.
“I have always been part of the fair. Every aspect of the fair you see, I’ve been part of,” she said. “…That’s why I really like it, is because I was always part of something with the fair.”
Clark grew up showing hogs, participating in the pig races, entering exhibits and was also rodeo queen. Now that she’s on the other side of things, she’s gained a new perspective of the fair, she said.
“You get to be part of the fair, and you get to see the magic,” Clark said. “And you get to produce the magic, so I really like that.”
The fair boasts something for everyone: fun in the form of carnival rides and racing pigs, entertainment in the form of live music and exhibits throughout the weekend, and education with numerous booths and tables on myriad topics.
One group hoping to the get the word out at the fair was the Fireweed Fiber Guild. Four of its members spun their own yarn out of natural fibers for passersby to see, and had displays and examples set out to view. The group is peninsula-wide and meets in Soldotna, and made up of people who have interest in making their own fibers for yarn, rather than going with store bought varieties.
Knitters and crocheters tend to want their own yarns, the group said, and there aren’t many choices in Alaska, which leads people to make them themselves. Member Juniper Freeman said it’s hard to go back to synthetic fibers after working and creating with the real deal.
“We call it muggle yarn,” said member Lisa Lambert of synthetic fibers.
“I think that’s why spinning is on the uphill, is because everybody is going green now and natural,” said Karen Porter. “So now there’s a big … drive for people wanting to spin because they want their own fibers.”
“There’s something beautiful about making your own from start to finish,” Freeman said.
Adults weren’t the only ones doing some teaching at the fair. Over at the 4-H barns, participants waiting to show their animals answered questions from curious families passing through. Rietta Keerins, 9, was preparing to show a red satin rabbit last Friday.
Keerins picked a rabbit, in addition to showing a pig, because “they’re cute and they’re fun,” she said. However, raising the smaller animal was not without its challenges. One difficult aspect is picking the rabbit up and keeping it calm, Keerins said. This was her second year showing one.
Keerins and several other rabbit showers were preparing Friday just before being called out to show. Some had their rabbits upside down to practice ahead of time.
“For showmanship you have to flip them over and show their feet and their belly and tell their gender and everything,” said Melanie Carpenter, 11. “And the only way you can do that is when they’re upside down.”
Carpetner also showed both a rabbit and a pig this year, and this was her third year for rabbits.