PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - For more than 80 years the Alaska State Fair has been a giant celebration for Alaskans, and a sort of "last hurrah" before summer transitions into the long Alaska winter. It also brings millions of dollars into our state economy.
If you visited the fairgrounds now, you'd see vendors moving in and workers putting finishing touches on new construction projects, all in preparation for the hundreds of thousands of people expected for the 2019 fair in just a few weeks.
"In some ways, particularly for the Palmer region, it's like the visitor industry. You have these 300,000 people pouring into this area for almost two weeks spending money," said Neal Fried, Economist for the Alaska Department of Labor. "I think on average they say about each fair-goer spends about $60. So that's a big impact and it's a short period of time."
According to State Fair General Manager, Jerome Hertel, attendance was up last year following a down year in 2017. It was about an increase of 4.2 percent over 2017's attendance of 281,129. They also say they saw a 43.6 percent increase in concert ticket sales.
"We had a great year last year, and we're expecting another good year. We have over 400 vendors on the grounds. Over 70 food vendors on the grounds," said Hertel. "When you look at the population of Alaska, over 40% of the state's population attends the Alaska state fair."
There is construction still moving along the Glenn Highway in front of the fairgrounds, but the Department of Transportation and State Fair officials say that construction will be suspended throughout the fair.
"The good news is traffic will not be impaired at all," said Hertel. "It will be normal traffic flow for the fair. Two open lanes. Lanes going both ways paved. So it will be normal fair traffic during the fair. We don't expect any delays. There will be no detours."
For more information on this year's state fair, visit their website, here.
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