Tanana Valley State Fair organizers cancel this year’s event due to coronavirus concerns

Fair-goers from around the Interior flock to the annual Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks. Credit Tanana Valley State Fair Association

The 96th Tanana Valley State Fair has been canceled. Officials with the fair association announced Wednesday they won’t be able to hold this year’s event, which had been scheduled to open July 31st, because of concern over spreading the coronavirus – and the difficulty of maintaining the required precautions.

Fair executive director Mahla Strohmaier says those restrictions included “one gate for entrance and one gate for exit. And we’d have one-way travel through the streets. And, with the social distancing, it’d be basically one person per food vendor.”

Get the latest coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska

Strohmaier says the announcement may not come as a surprise, because of all the other disruption created by the virus, including last week’s decision to cancel the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. So she says local fair organizers are already looking ahead.

“It’s very sad that we’re not having the fair, but as odd as the world has gotten, I think it’s very important to focus on what’s is going to happen rather than what’s not going to happen.

RELATED: Disappointment and money worries for hundreds of vendors after Alaska State Fair cancels

Strohmaier says organizers are already planning other events for the fairgrounds, starting with a community yard sale this Friday and Saturday. She says it’ll be modeled after the first garage sale they held last year, which proved popular. And she says it’ll allow folks to rent a booth at a low price in the big Borealis Pavilion. 

“So it’s just a great community gathering. And we have so much space – we can easily spread out.”

Strohmaier says organizers also are considering holding a Vendor Fest, to give the small business persons who would’ve been part of the fair another venue to sell their wares.

“What we’re looking at doing is maybe inviting them, if they choose to, to set up their vendor booths. We can spread out across the fairgrounds, since there won’t be anything else going on, and just let them set up their stuff and sell.”

Strohmaier says the idea is only a proposal, but if there’s enough interest, they’ll organize the event and hold it around the time the fair usually is held, around mid-August.

She says the fair association also is looking forward to staging a couple more events later in the fall, when there’s hope the state will be able to ease-up on coronavirus restrictions.

“Well we’ve got the Fall Festival, which has been happening for several years now. It’s a wonderful, small gathering. There’s a pumpkin patch and a hayride and stuff like that.”

Strohmaier says organizers are confident they’ll be able to stage the festival, as well as the haunted house, which they’ll open up around Halloween.

Tim Ellis is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

Previous articleStryker soldiers begin returning to Alaska from nine-month tour in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait
Next articleIn showdown with Army Corps of Engineers over Pebble Mine, EPA blinks