Did you make it to the Fall Festival at the Tanana Valley State Fairgrounds on Oct. 5? If not, you missed out on a fun family activity. Around 5,000 people from infants up to their 70s attended. This event is for the young at heart. The fair and its volunteers, a lot of 4-H leaders and superintendents, want to thank you for coming out and supporting them.
The event had a minimal fee for families or individuals. Once inside, everyone was able to take hayrides, play fun games and in bouncy houses, attend a petting zoo, watch a kids’ Halloween movie, do face painting and enjoy some live music for the cost of admission. There were also food trucks, nonprofits selling things and providing great activities, and a pumpkin patch where you could purchase a pumpkin. Cutouts and staged scenes around the grounds provided lots of fun photo opportunities.
A 4-H leader and I wanted to bring a fun family event to Fairbanks for the fall. In the Lower 48, we knew there were pumpkin patches but how could we have one in Fairbanks, where they can’t grow in time? After learning about Kodiak 4-H and how it does its fall event, we decided to give it a try. We are humbled by the success it is.
The first year we had no idea of what our little thought would be. We bought three pallets of pumpkins and sold out and had to go buy two more. We had around 2,000 people and lines galore. We learned and the second year bought eight pallets of pumpkins and still sold out. We added more cashiers and another hayride, and there were still lines and 3,000-4,000 people. This year, we think we finally figured it out and added another hayride for a total of three. We opened a second gate and had six cashiers. We bought 12 pallets of pumpkins, didn’t have very long lines and had pumpkins left over.
It is fun to watch the kids enjoy picking out a pumpkin with their families and then asking them about the favorite thing they have done. There is no set answer and it does vary in what they like. We are just happy to see them having fun and as a family because that is what this is about.
Nancy Graff and I would like to thank the fair for running with our idea, committee members Monica Bonis, Michelle DeCorso, Karen Lang, Priscilla Rice and Miriam Woody, along with the many wonderful volunteers that helped put the festival on. Our community is great because of organizations like the Golden Heart Greeters, Volunteers in Policing, Credit Union 1, North Pole High School Student Council, and Key Club and Honor Society who were a big source or volunteers for this event. Thank you all for all you do.
We would also like to thank the nonprofits that came and hope they had a huge success. Also, thanks to our sponsors Alaska Farm Bureau Fairbanks Chapter, Pogo Mine, Usibelli Coal Mine, Gene’s Chrysler, Mt. McKinley Bank, Tanana District Livestock Committee, Wentz Orthodontics, GVEA, Costco, Greer, Rental Zone, Horizon Services Inc., Safeway and Barnes and Noble.
This event is put on by the fair, but a lot of the committee members are 4-H leaders. 4-H has always been a big part of the fair and we are very happy to help with this event and provide this fun family activity for Fairbanks. So, if you missed it this year, mark your calendars now for next year on the first Friday of October from 4-8 p.m.
In the meantime, check out 4-H and what it has to offer. 4-H is a youth organization that helps youths ages 5-18 learn about certain items of interest to them and also life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. We are always looking for more volunteers and members. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at www.alaska4h.org/fairbankstanana-district.html. 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.