When it comes to old-fashioned family fun, nothing compares to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. This annual celebration, held during the 12 days that lead up to Labor Day, has been attracting locals and visitors for over 75 years. Spend a day admiring record-setting giant vegetables, check out the amusement rides and carnival games, or simply take in the spectacular views of the Chugach Mountains. You can even enjoy live performances by world-famous entertainers. Whatever your interests are, the Alaska State Fair has something for everyone! Here are some of the things you’ll see there.
Learn more about the Alaska State Fair and other Palmer, Alaska, events when you download our free Vacation Guide! It’s full of recommendations for fun things to do, places to see, and restaurants to try during your stay at Alaska Garden Gate. This helpful guide will simplify your planning and ensure you get the full Alaska experience.
What to Expect at the Alaska State Fair
Fun Activities & Attractions
The first Alaska State Fair was held in 1936. This inaugural event featured a baby show, boxing matches, horse races, a rodeo, and baseball games. There were also agricultural entries like giant cabbages and other vegetables. Today, the competitive vegetable exhibit is one of the event’s most popular attractions and features crops from local growers. The contest has seen everything from a record-breaking 16-foot sunflower to a 1,469-pound giant pumpkin! Stay tuned for the long-awaited giant cabbage weigh-off, too.
At the Alaska State Fair, you’ll find numerous exhibits in a wide range of categories, including:
- Baked goods
- Handiwork and Needlework
- Honey and Beekeeping
- Homebrewing & Spirited Beverages
After you check out the exhibits, take a spin on some carnival rides like the Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, or bumper cars, among many others. There are also plenty of kid-friendly rides including a fun house, carousel, and slide.
Local Tip: Get in line for the Ferris wheel around 8:30 p.m. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the front of the line, but the views from the top are worth it! You’ll have a stunning panorama of the mountains in alpenglow, an optical phenomenon in which a glowing, red band hangs over the horizon line. You can also buy your tickets online to save even more time!
Delicious Alaska State Fair Food
For many, food is a major attraction at the Alaska State Fair. Over 70 State Fair vendors offer staples like hot dogs, pizza, and nachos as well as more exotic selections like gyros and tacos. This is also a great place to try Alaskan seafood specialties. Salmon quesadillas, Kodiak scallops the size of your palm, crab legs – you name it! If you start to get chilly from the fall-like weather, warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of crab bisque. Keep an eye out for vegetarian options, too!
Live music has played an incredible role in the fair’s status as the largest event in the state. The Alaska State Fair’s annual AT&T Concert Series has hosted dozens of bands and performers over the years. Legendary artists like the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys have graced the stage at ConocoPhillips Borealis Theatre. In addition to musical performances, this series occasionally invites comedians to perform hilarious stand-up acts! Be sure to visit the event website for details on this year’s lineup.
Local Tip: The venue is an open-air theatre with performances occurring rain or shine, so consider an umbrella or rain jacket depending on the forecast. You can also get settled early since the gates typically open one hour before showtime.
Come Home to Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages
Held from the end of August to early September, the Alaska State Fair in Palmer serves as a “last hurrah” before summer gives way to the long Alaska winter. Did you know that the Alaska State Fairgrounds also hosts events throughout the year? If you’re planning to attend a car show, horse show, rodeo, or concert, book your stay at our Palmer bed and breakfast. Our beautiful cottages, apartments, and inn rooms are just minutes from the fairgrounds and have everything you need for an unforgettable trip. We even offer a delicious complimentary breakfast each morning!
For families or groups looking for unbeatable value, consider a bedroom with a private bathroom at the inn. This economical room can sleep up to five people and is a smart choice if you don’t need a kitchen or living room. Visit our accommodations page to see our list of options and book your stay today. We look forward to seeing you!