After several years of seriously rain soaked weekends the Peninsula State Fair at Ninilchik caught a break and the results were record breaking attendance, miles of smiles on children’s faces and the highest prices ever at the 4-H Junior Market Livestock auction. Fair director Lara McGinnis who has overseen many renovations at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds was excited about the results of this year’s fairs summing up the 2012 Fair Lara said, “This fair began for me, in October of 2011 with a facebook message from Connie Bon asking us to consider bringing her son and his dance group Powerhouse to our fair. They were originally from Kenai and now travel the world entertaining crowds with dance. It was a no brainer for me we wanted them at the Fair. That was followed by a series of daring choices for entertainment at the fair this year. We spent $10,000 more than we ever have, but it paid off. Attendance set records for Friday and Saturday both, we were totally off the charts. Our Partnership with BP and the Peninsula Food Bank brought in almost four 30 gallon trash cans filled with food. According to my gate crew, there were only maybe 10 families that forgot to bring something for the Food Bank. That warms my heart,” said McGinnis.
Rodeo goers loved the new aluminum grandstands as did the bidders at the 4-H Junior Market Livestock (JML) auction. According to Jason Floyd 4-H youth development agent at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service even though there were fewer animals for sale this year the prices paid set an all time record with the 4-H Charity Turkey bringing nearly $110.00 a pound to benefit the medical needs of the Smitter-Schrier family, “Our 4-H member who raised the turkey was Coltin Yancey. 28 businesses and individuals bid and then added on a total of $3,880 for the bird. The bird weighed in at 35.3 lbs. Doing the math the bird sold for over $109.91 per pound with the proceeds going to benefit the medical expenses of a 4-H youth member for many years Vienna Schmitter-Schrier who has been fighting a chronic illness this past year. And that was just the beginning to a record breaking year for prices for all the animals sold. Our appreciation to everyone who turned out to bid and support our JML auction this year,” said Floyd.
According to McGinnis the new bleachers were purchased through a community revenue grant, “The Ninilchik community was recognized as being an important place for community funds and we received a rural development and of course these improvements were not just for Ninilchik but are benefiting the entire Peninsula as we now the venue for 10 major events a year,” explained McGinnis. “The Fair this year was just beyond belief. Every year I have what I call a ‘fair moment’ it’s that moment when someone says or does something that reminds me why I do what I do. This year that moment came in the quiet drizzle by the arena. I was walking by when Steve Larby, long time rodeo supporter, called me up onto the bleachers. There he sat in his wheel chair with a flag in his hand to help judge the team-penning competition and he told me ‘I can’t remember the last time I got to drop the flag looking down at the cattle.’ It still brings tears to my eyes. For all the changes and additions and outstanding entertainment that we brought to the Fair this year, that moment was the one that will live in my memory for ever. It was a phenomenal fair and I can’t wait to see what next year brings,” said McGinnis.