Jennifer Fritz of Eagle River wins All Alaskan Backwoods Girl competition at Ninilchik Fair.
From livestock and produce to jams, liqueurs, arts and crafts, people of the peninsula displayed their pride and joys at the Ninilchik State Fair. The theme of this year’s fair was “Jamin’ with the Salmon, Swinging with the Swine!” The weather Friday proved to be wet enough for salmon to go swimming with the swine, but according to Kenai Peninsula State Fair Manager Lara McGinnis over all it was a fabulous fair, “The outpouring of community support was tremendous, from the rescheduling of some of our musical attractions, to HEA coming out at the last minute that avoided a power outage that would have been a disaster for us, to Marathon Oil who worked the grounds so we didn’t have a torn up mud mess, it truly was a wonderful community experience,” said McGinnis after the fair.
The weather took its toll on attendance which was down some 600 from last year, but nevertheless 5,900 paid to pass the gate and see the pride of the peninsula on display and enjoy all the attractions according to McGinnis. The blustery weather also did not deter loyal 4-H supporters from bidding at the 4-H Junior Market Livestock which brought in over $90,000, “I’m so glad that everyone turned out for us, we’re really happy that everything is going well and the 4-H kids are having a great experience. We’re very grateful for all the buyers and know that they will be rewarded with the highest quality meats,” said Kara Bethune, 4-H JML chairperson, who raised and sold the grand champion lamb this year.
Kids as young as nine can join the JML program; learning the responsibility of raising an animal, and harvesting the rewards of their labor. Three years ago Tatiana Butler and Walker & Logan Boyle brought a new idea to the JML Auction. They had gathered books to send to Papua New Guinea, but didn’t have the funds to cover the shipping costs. They decided to raise three chickens and sell them at the beginning of the JML auction. From the generous buyers they were able to complete their worthwhile project. The following year 4-Her’s raised a turkey and gave the proceeds to the Soldotna Rotary Club to buy wheelchairs for needy people around the world. This year Kendra Ashwell raised a turkey to be auctioned off to help the Dave Cozzini family. Dave is self employed and has been recently diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer. “It’s an amazing program, not only has it helped me afford college, but you learn to keep your room clean as well as the hog pen. I have grown up so much since I started,” said Tatiana Butler, who will be attending Amherst College in Massachusetts this fall.
When it came to the famous All Alaskan Backwoods Girl Competition, a young teacher from Eagle River, Jennifer Fritz, walked away with the title and a brand new chainsaw from Homer Saw & Cycle, “We had to run a wheel barrow through a course and not go outside the lines, load up firewood, take the wood through the rest of the course and stack it nicely, go pick up the baby that cried if you didn’t hold it properly, cook an egg and flip it without breaking the yoke, with the mechanical baby in hand, then carry a bucket of water back through the course again carrying the baby and loosing points for spilling water. A lot of the girls said it was just like what they did at home and I’ll tell you I plan on using that new chain saw this winter,” said Fritz.
In the All Alaskan Arm Wrestling trials, Micaela Coe took the 9-12 year old girls title, and Caleb Cozzini won in the boys division. David Pherson won in the 12-14 year old category. Cody was the 15-17 year old champ and Craig took the senior title.
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