The Alaska State Fair isn't just about food, music and games – artists of many mediums flock to the fair from around the state to enter their masterpieces into a variety of competitive exhibits.
This year, 12 exhibit winners were from Southeast Alaska – with nine hailing from the First City, according to information from Lisa Doyon, fair coordinator for the Southeast area.
A variety of competitions were in full-swing at the fair, which was held during the last week of August. This included a parent-and-child look-alike contest, cosplay contest, senior joke and storytelling contest, staff goat milking competition, scarecrow contest, dutch oven cook-off, a “seafood throw down,” “beef showdown,” “BBQ bash,” canine talent show, fiddle contest and “Alaska's Got Talent” show, according to the Alaska State Fair's website.
Concerts also were held every day of the fair, ranging from bands like “Slightly Stoopid” to performers such as country musician Dustin Lynch.
In between listening to live music and enjoying the festive atmosphere, fair goers were able to walk through the art exhibitions. The artists and craft makers themselves – whether they were in attendance at the fair or eagerly waiting at home – were anticipating notice of whether one or more of their pieces was awarded a first, second or third place prize, or was named judge's choice or division champion.
“It seems almost everyone who enters from Ketchikan wins something!” Doyon wrote to the Daily News about the nine First City winners. “I tell you, we have a very talented community here.”
Doyon herself entered a kelp seaweed basket into the “creative arts and crafts” exhibit and was named first-place winner in the “Alaskana arts” division.
The eight other Ketchikan honorees were Jodi Albertson, Susan Hoyt, Michelle Leitz, Julia Lekwauwa, Dena Minicucci, Marva Lee Otos, Dawn Teune and Dody White.
Albertson won second place in the canning exhibit's jam division for her huckleberry jam, and earned an honorable mention for her spruce tip jelly entry.
Susan Hoyt was named third-place winner in the photography exhibit's professional photography division.
“(Hoyt) won at both fairs this year for her photos,” Doyon wrote to the Daily News. “She won at the Haines Southeast panhandle fair and our big Palmer state fair, also!”
Michelle Leitz's whole dill pickles earned her first place in the pickles division of the canning category.
“This is her first state fair win for her pickles,” Doyon noted about Leitz.
Julie Lekwauwa earned second-place wins in the canning category for her haskap jam, sliced dill pickles and raspberry jam entries. Lekwauwa also won third place for her cherry jam, cranberry jam and bread-and-butter pickles.
“Julie Lekwauwa won a ribbon on everything she entered,” Doyon said about Lekwauwa's six total entries. “We have to remember, the Alaska State Fair is a statewide competition! The Haines Southeast Alaska Fair is only for our southeastern panhandle. So for Julie to win on all of (her) entries, like she did in Palmer, says a lot to her expertise!”
Dena Minicucci was a first place winner in the quilting exhibit for her entry into the “bed quilts” division.
Dawn Teune won both first place and judge's choice – which was awarded to artists who were nearly named division champions – for her quilt titled “Pennies from Heaven” in the quilting category's “small quilts” division.
Marva Lee Otos was named second-place winner for her entry into the bed quilts division.
Dody White was named first-place winner in the “bed quilts” division. She also was awarded a gift from Sylvia's Quilt Store for “best use of batiks.”
Doyon said that White was a “new name on her winner's list.”
The Southeast winners who do not hail from Ketchikan are Sandra Bleicher of Auke Bay, who entered a quilt into the “wall hanging” division; Leah Welch of Juneau, who entered two projects into the “creative arts and crafts” contest – both in the beadwork and decorative painting divisions; and Elliot Welch, who entered into the baked goods contest's candy division.
Doyon encouraged all artists – including students and youth – to enter a piece into an exhibit at next year's fair.
“I want to get a message out to all the (local) teachers to offer an extra credit project to help involve the children in the arts more,” Doyon said.
“I also encourage Metlakatla and Prince of Wales to enter, they will get the same postage deal, as they are in the Ketchikan vicinity,” Doyon continued, noting that “we are so lucky” that the fair pays for return postage for arts submissions.