‘We are hopeful’: Southeast Alaska State Fair is on for 2021, in some form

The 2017 Southeast Alaska State Fair. (Photo courtesy Emily Files/KHNS)
The 2017 Southeast Alaska State Fair. (Photo courtesy Emily Files/KHNS)

The Southeast Alaska State Fair plans to resume events in 2021. Last year’s calendar was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It won’t be a normal year, but most events are slated to resume with pandemic precautions in place.

Southeast Alaska State Fair Executive Director Kari Johnson says events are likely to be smaller and will certainly be outside. But she’s planning a Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines.

“We are hopeful,” Johnson said.

“I mean, yes, there’s going to be one. It might be big, it might be small, you know, I think we’re kind of waiting to see what happens.”

The size of the fair depends on a number of factors, she said. Whether or not the Canadian border will reopen is a big one.

The border reopening is also a lynchpin to the decision of whether or not to hold a Beer Fest this year. About 70% of the attendance comes from the Yukon — that’s what makes it financially viable. Even if the border opens, Johnson says they’re still unsure if the event can be made safe enough. The fair’s board has put that decision off until at least February.

Winter Games, the Spring Fling, the Haines Fisherman’s Salmon Barbeque and the Backcountry Games are all back on the calendar.

“Our goal is just to do, you know, small outdoor events, focus locally, if we’re able to bring in more for during the fair then great. But we are basically planning on just making sure that we have some events to go on,” Johnson said.

Johnson says it isn’t likely to have a big money-making season for the non-profit, but the goal is to put on as many events as possible.

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