Cajun band ‘clamming it up’ for Ninilchik Fair fundraiser

BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, “the best Cajun band in the world,” as Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Company describes the band, is coming to the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds. The March 29 Ninilchik stop kicks off the Kenai Peninsula Fair’s 2013 season under the theme “Clammin’ It Up” and is part of the fair’s annual fundraising celebrity waiter dinner. 

Doors open at 6 p.m. with a 45-minute show at 7 p.m. That will be followed by a cordon bleu dinner prepared by Debbie Carey of Inlet View Lodge and served by a dozen celebrity waiters, auctions and raffles. BeauSoleil performs a second time at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $50 each for the full evening, including dinner and both shows, and $25 for the second show. They are available from the waiters, at Homer Bookstore and on the fair’s website, kenaipeninsulafair.org, via Paypal.

“We are selling 200 tickets for the evening and have about 75 left,” said Lara McGinnis, fair manager, on Friday. “We’re selling 100 for the second show and have sold 25.” 

BeauSoleil’s Ninilchik stop wraps up the band’s swing through Alaska, with concerts at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, as well as Fairbanks, Cordova and Valdez. It also is timed with the release of “From Bamako to Carencro,” BeauSoleil’s 25th recording that blends jazz, blues, rock, folk, Cajun, Zydeco, country and bluegrass.

This is BeauSoleil’s third performance for Kenai Peninsula crowds. In 2006, the band opened in Ninilchik for Arlo Guthrie. The next year it returned to play for the opening of the fair.

“We are super, super excited to have them back,” said McGinnis. “When they were here five years ago I signed up for their newsletter. About four months ago, they announced they were going to be in Valdez. We approached them and they said they’d be happy to come down.”

The band presented McGinnis with two options: Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29.

“We jumped on Friday because music on Friday in Ninilchik? Oh, my goodness,” she said.

It wasn’t until after the date was set that McGinnis and others realized it was Good Friday.

“Everyone knows the heart of the fair and we would never intentionally leave anyone out with an event on a holiday,” said McGinnis of a holy day observed by many. “We will work very hard to make sure this never happens again.”

BeauSoleil’s “Alligator Purse” was a 2010 Grammy nominee for best Zydeco or Cajun music album, the 2009 best Zydeco or Cajun music album for “Live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,” and the 1998 best traditional folk album winner for “L’Amour Ou La Folie.” Michael Doucet’s “From Now On” was a 2009 nominee for best Zydeco or Cajun music album. Doucet and BeauSoleil also have won numerous Offbeat Magazine “Best of the Beat” awards. The band was named the 2011 best non-European Cajun band in the European Cajun and Zydeco Awards at Cologne, Germany, and they performed at the Superbowl halftime show in 1997.

The evening includes wine from Bear Creek Winery, a tasting from High Mark Distillery in Sterling and a full-service bar.

Funds raised during the evening will be divided between the fair’s operating fund, a rainy day fund and an account for including other events at the fair, which will be held Aug. 16-18. In addition, two raffles will give attendees options for supporting the fair’s beautification program or more entertainment. Among the evening’s auction items is a flight-seeing trip for two to the Pebble mine site and a visit to Fairbanks that includes a trip on the Riverboat Discovery.

Celebrity waiters include Zen Kelly, Lyn Davis Patton, Jason Floyd, Dillon Covey, Robert McGinnis, Tiffany Stonecipher, Tom Randell, Mary Trimble, Jeff Ambrosier, Gary Strogh, Kristine Hutchison and Scooter Hackett of the Rodeo Association.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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