Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Alaska State Fair in pictures

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.
Giant Alaskan vegetables such as a 100 pound cabbage
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.
Alaskan berries, State Fair, Alaska
 Alaskan berries. Like Scandinavia, they have a huge variety of berries; blueberries, salmon berries, cranberries, huckleberries, blackberries, cloudberries, rose hips.
Different varieties of Alaskan apples
 Different varieties of Alaskan apples
Geese breeders, Alaska, Muslims in Alaska
 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, Alaska state fair
 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, Alaska State Fair
 Birch syrup comes in different grades. It is even rarer and more costly than Maple syrup.
Rhubarb lemonade and peanut potato fries, Alaska State Fair
 Tart but sweet rhubarb lemonade and 'peanut' potato fries. One of the best things I ate.
Elephants ear, Alaska State Fair
 Elephants ear snack, a crispy sopalilla type fried dough, sprinkled with sugar. 
Funnel cake, Alaska State Fair
 Funnel cake.
Funnel cake, Alaska State Fair
 Funnel cake, sprinkled with sugar.
White rat roulette, Alaska State Fair
 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. 
White rat roulette, Alaska State Fair
 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.
Deep fried prawns, popcorn shrimps, Alaska State Fair
Popcorn shrimp, deep fried battered prawns
Popcorn shrimp stall, Alaska State Fair

chowder in a bread bowl, Alaska State Fair
 Clam chowder in a bread bowl.
Fried halibut, halibut sandwich stall, Alaska State Fair
 One of the most popular foods is the halibut sandwich, at this stall.
Halibut and chips, Alaska State Fair
Halibut and chips. So fresh, so crisp.
Corn dogs, Alaska State Fair
 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, Alaska State Fair
 Baked potatoes with icecream scoops of cream cheese and whipped butter. Moan.

Dog trials, Alaska State Fair
Sheep dog trials, they also had huskies.
Right to life stand, Alaska State Fair
 Right to life stand.
Blacksmiths, Alaska State Fair
 Blacksmiths stall.
Cowgirl, Alaska State Fair
 Alaskan Cowgirl.
Cream puffs, Alaska State Fair
 Outrageous cream puffs. 
Shucking oysters, Alaska State Fair
 Shucking oysters. 
Oysters, Alaska State Fair
 Oysters with hot sauce, jalapeƱos. 
Reindeer sausage stall, Alaska State Fair
 Reindeer sausages, Reindeer hot dog, Buffalo bratwurst.
Huskie training, Alaska State Fair
 Huskie training.
Pork chop on a stick, Alaska State Fair
 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, Alaska State Fair
 Fried cheese curds. This is very popular in Canada too.
Corn on a cob, Alaska State Fair

Food signs, Alaska State Fair

Wild hair, girl with pink hair, Alaska State Fair
There were stalls where you could get 'wild hair', sprayed into shapes and coloured. 

Funnel cake stall, Alaska State Fair
 Funnel cakes, root beer floats.
Waffle fries, Alaska State Fair
 Waffle fries.
Horse drawn carousel, Alaska State Fair
 A carousel drawn by actual horses.
Guns for charity sign, NRA stand, Alaska State Fair
Donate your gun to a good cause! NRA stand.
wine bar in a chapel, Alaska State Fair
 Wine bar in a chapel.
Donut burger, Alaska State Fair
 Donut burger! 
Cheese fries, Alaska State Fair
 I come here every year for the cheese fries, said this guy.
wax hands, Alaska State Fair
 Couples have their clasped hands enrobed in wax for posterity.
Dipping a wax hand in coloured wax, Alaska State Fair
 Dipping the wax hands in coloured wax.
Wax hand stand, Alaska State Fair

Child with 'wild hair', Alaska State Fair

Wild hair and face painting, Alaska State Fair
Wild hair and face painting. All the fun of the fair.


  1. I love this tour of the state fair . As a cook and a food lover this is exactly what I want to see when I travel. So much more exciting than a gallery or museum for me . Your pictures and your lovely way of seeing bring it to life. I have had elephant ear from a truck in the middle of a dusty road in Arizona . Birch syrup i have never heard of what is it? Are you bringing any home .

  2. Birch syrup is similar to Maple syrup.They tap the tree and evaporate the sap. It's delicious.
    thanks for commenting Tansy

  3. What a fascinating fair, such interesting food, if heart attack on a plate ;)

    1. Yes the emphasis was on fried foods. However in Alaska you need your fat!

  4. Oh my word Kerstin, I would happily eat the lot and be moaning and groaning about a full tummy! Great food tour. Love it. Elinor x

    1. You need days to eat it all. The fair lasts 10 days but I only had one. The peanut fried potatoes were a thing of beauty.

  5. Will you publish your version of peanut potatoes when you come back? Xx

    1. Peanut potatoes seem to be a bit like pink fir potatoes, peanut shaped rather than flavoured. They were soft inside with crispy flavoursome skins, yummy.

  6. Fascinating photographic account of your Alaskan journey. I learnt that huckleberry is not just a name made up by Mark Twain. What does it look like and how do you eat it? Wild Hair and Wax Hands could be features in themselves. Try to get published in a colour supplement. Post some pix on Facebook.

    1. A huckleberry, something I tasted and saw for the first time a couple of days ago, is a small red berry. It's very sweet. I guess you just eat it like any other berry! I will find out.
      Thanks for your comment, would love to be published in a colour supplement!


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)