The State Fair is the equivalent of the British agricultural show or county fair. Most US states have them, generally in late August or in the autumn. It's a mix of fun fair, country fair, and food festival. In Britain fun fairs tend to have very limited food, maybe a candy floss stall, some toffee apples, a pedestrian burger and hot dog stall. Country/county fairs may have cakes and jams to add to that mix. The US State Fair has a glorious selection of food stalls, enough to shame any food truck/street food festival in Britain. This state fair in Palmer, Alaska, an hour north of Anchorage, is visited by virtually the entire population of Alaska, all 750,000 of them. You may even get to see Sarah Palin, she makes an annual visit. (But she's mostly resident in Arizona nowadays). As well as at least 100 different food stalls, there are crafts and music, dog trials, a carousel powered by real horses and things that look odd to the British eye. For instance, the anti-abortion stall, sometimes with graphic pictures, political candidates stalls, and a stand hosted by the NRA, the National Rifle Association where I could have entered a ten dollar lottery to win a gun. But if any state remains true to the original pioneering American grit, it's Alaska. Hunting, shooting and fishing is a way of life. Alaskans are outliers.
|Although the Alaskan growing season is short, about three months, the long summer days, with the midnight sun, means that the growing is intense. Sometimes the vegetables are enormous, such as this prize winning giant 100 pound cabbage.|
Different varieties of Alaskan apples
This couple breed geese. I stroked them, so soft. I also found out that the word for 'duvet' in American is 'comforter'.
Judging the Alaskan seafood competition with Alaskan Olympic cross country skier Kikkan Randall next to me, chef Naomi Everett, chef Jason Porter of the 7 Glaciers restaurant. Chef Kevin Lane won with his incredible skill with Alaskan seafood, particularly the outstanding Black cod with black garlic aoili.
Birch syrup comes in different grades. It is even rarer and more costly than Maple syrup.
Tart but sweet rhubarb lemonade and 'peanut' potato fries. One of the best things I ate.
Elephants ear snack, a crispy sopalilla type fried dough, sprinkled with sugar.
Funnel cake, sprinkled with sugar.
White rat roulette; a white rat is underneath the cushion. The table is spun. You place your your bets on the colour down which hole the rat will run down.
Here's the rat! The rat wouldn't move so they cheated a bit by tapping on a colour, which the rat responded to. Still, people are only betting a quarter.
|Popcorn shrimp, deep fried battered prawns|
Clam chowder in a bread bowl.
One of the most popular foods is the halibut sandwich, at this stall.
Halibut and chips. So fresh, so crisp.
Corn dogs, hotdogs covered with a cornmeal batter, eaten on a stick. A typical State Fair food.
Baked potatoes with icecream scoops of cream cheese and whipped butter. Moan.
Sheep dog trials, they also had huskies.
Right to life stand.
Outrageous cream puffs.
Oysters with hot sauce, jalapeños.
Reindeer sausages, Reindeer hot dog, Buffalo bratwurst.
This was one of the most popular food stands, pork chop on a stick. I don't eat meat, but I appreciate any food on a stick. I did a whole supper club called 'On a stick'.
Fried cheese curds. This is very popular in Canada too.
There were stalls where you could get 'wild hair', sprayed into shapes and coloured.
Funnel cakes, root beer floats.
A carousel drawn by actual horses.
Donate your gun to a good cause! NRA stand.
Wine bar in a chapel.
I come here every year for the cheese fries, said this guy.
Couples have their clasped hands enrobed in wax for posterity.
Dipping the wax hands in coloured wax.
Wild hair and face painting. All the fun of the fair.