Tanana Valley cancels state fair: 'It is heartbreaking'

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:26 PM AKDT
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The Tanana Valley State Fair announced Wednesday evening the cancellation of the 2020 fair, originally scheduled for July 31-August 9.

After months of consideration, the board of directors elected to focus on the 97th anniversary of the fair in 2021, citing the safety of guests, vendors, and staff.

Along with the precautionary measures, other logistical obstacles made it challenging for the fair to come to fruition.

"We would be looking at a fair where you couldn't touch each other, you had to order things one at a time, walk one-way, and we would have very few vendors," said Executive Director Mahla Stromaier. "It just breaks our heart. Fiscally, we are all having trouble this year and we are a nonprofit, we are in the same boat. We couldn't ensure the safety. If there had been an outbreak.. if it had happened, it would have been devastating."

Last week, the Alaska State Fair located in Palmer cancelled for the first time since World War II.

"If we do put on the fair and we spend several hundred thousand dollars on this fair and 12 people come, we won't have one next year and I don't say that flippantly." added Stromaier.

The annual Tanana Valley State Fair brings an economic boost to the area, with hundreds of vendors, entertainers, staff and even more guests.

"Our economic impact is about $2.5 Million. We bring in jobs, we bring in consumers, for the vendors, we'll restock their foods locally," said Stromaier. "We bring business to bed and breakfasts, to hotels, to campgrounds for people who come and for the vendors. For entertainers who come up, we rent cars, we use airplanes, we rent limos."

While the fair will not be taking place over a 10-day period this summer, the grounds will not be uninhabited.

"We are looking at what we can do, not what we can't do," said Stromaier. "We are still hosting the dog show agility trials in July, we are hosting some concerts if they still happen. It is not our concert, it is just happening here, so it is up to them if they can follow whatever mandates are there."

"This is early on, but I would like to do a vendor fest. We'll give them a space, and you can walk around and buy your fair food and fair goodies and souvenirs and that way the vendors can make some money, and the people can walk around and enjoy it," said Stromaier. "We are also very aware of the Food Bank not getting our food bank day donation."

The Fairgrounds are hosting a community garage sale on May 29-30 inside the Borealis Pavilion.

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