There will be no poultry at this year’s Tanana Valley State Fair due to bird flu concerns

a fair outside on a cloudy day
Fair-goers from around the Interior flock to the annual Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks. (Tanana Valley State Fair Association)

There will be no poultry at the upcoming Tanana Valley State Fair in Interior Alaska for the first time in decades. Fair board president Coleen Turner says the decision was made because of the threat of avian influenza.

“We really felt like it was in the best interest of people who bring their poultry to the fair, that we make sure that they’re safe and that we don’t cause any undue harm to those animals,” said Turner. “And that’s why we made that decision. And it was thoroughly vetted with our livestock committee, the state vet and our board of directors.”

More than 40 million poultry have been impacted by the bird flu nationwide, plus over 1,800 wild birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The birds on display at the Tanana Valley State Fair typically include geese, turkeys, chickens and ducks.

Turner said when deciding to ban them organizers also took into account the fairgrounds’ location next to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.        

“They’ve actually had birds there infected,” she said. “That made it a higher risk and so we really felt like we could not have the poultry here because of that.”

The Tanana Valley State Fair starts Friday and Turner said preparations are going well despite Monday’s windstorm which damaged some vendor tents.

“Quite a few people’s tents were blown away and destroyed, but I have to tell you, people are very resilient, helping to find poles to put things together,” she said.

Turner said the fair’s big-top tent barely survived the high winds.

“It was kinda touch and go with that tent,” she said. “We literally had to take all the tent sides off because the poles were coming off and we definitely were quite concerned that we were gonna lose that tent.”  

The Tanana Valley State Fair runs from Friday, July 29, through Aug. 7.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.