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Cajun band ‘clamming it up’ for Ninilchik Fair fundraiser

Posted: March 20, 2013 - 1:16pm

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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LaFern 03/21/13 - 08:49 am

The fair is a great experience and has been a staple of life for decades, but it is currently mismanaged away from how great it could become what with dilapidated buildings, an inability to secure maintenance and sanitation, etc. In general the place is very disorganized and it makes it hard for fairgoers and supporters to get too excited about fair time, especially since the fair has to masquerade as a non-profit and compete with non-profits to get enough funding for year to year operations. (The expensive ticket prices to fundraisers and events keep away the locals too.)

I hope that the fair can pull it together and really become the shining jewel of the peninsula it is meant to be. Good luck!

Positive Attitude
Positive Attitude 03/22/13 - 08:54 am
The Fair is doing GREAT!

I am disappointed in the above comment. I have attended the Fair for at least 20 straight years. Every year it gets bigger and better. There are new bleachers for the Rodeo. There are paved walkways throughout the grounds. The appearance has greatly improved with awesome Ray Troll wall murals and many more aesthetic improvements. The current management has done an excellent job of seeking out funding, donors, grants, vendors, and keeping the community involved. The current Board of Directors and Fair Manager have great vision and tireless work ethic. They have also given many of our youth and community members jobs. They have done a great job making the grounds available to all groups wanting to use it. The Fair Fund Raiser, coming up on Friday March 29th, has become a very fun and successful event and will even have live music this year.

The Fair is doing great and needs everyone's support. It is their for the entire Peninsula and we should be proud and thankful to have it. Keep up the great work!

LaFern 03/22/13 - 12:03 pm
Pebble Mine?

On top of the concerns previously stated, why is a trip to visit Pebble Mine a "prize" at this event? Is the peninsula's fair being politicized?

Icandoit 03/22/13 - 05:49 pm
Kenai Peninsula Fair

It seems to me that someone has a personal vindetta against the Kenai Peninsula Fair. Also that someone does not know the what it takes to become a 501(c)3, nor know the reporting that entails for a non profit. To say that there is mismanagement is a personal unfounded accusation only.

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