Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:55 PM on Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'A reelin', squealin' good time'

Saturday's celebrity waiter dinner raises funds for Kenai Peninsula fair

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Celebrity waiters are tying on their aprons and polishing their meal-serving skills in preparation for the Kenai Peninsula State Fair's seventh annual Celebrity Waiter Fundraiser this Saturday. This year's theme: "A Reelin', Squealin' Good Time."

Doors at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 each or $55 per couple.

As of last Friday, 140 of 200 available tickets had been sold. Tickets can be bought from waiters or through PayPal on the fair's web site, www.kenaipeninsulafair.com.

"We've sold out in the past and I'm confident we will again," said Fair Manager Lara McGinnis.

Taking part in the good-natured competition to be the waiter with the most tips is first-time celebrity waiter Mary Trimble of Coastal Realty in Anchor Point.

"I figured it was a good cause and I could certainly do it," Trimble told the Homer News. "(McGinnis) said there would be some young kids doing the actual serving, so I just have to do more schmoozing and make sure people have fun and want to come back."

Other celebrity waiters include Ninilchik and Skyview Coach Chris Finley, who is partnered with McGinnis' 12-year-old son Robert; Randy Daly of KSRM and High Speed Gear; Jason Floyd, cooperative extension liaison; Brent Johnson, who represents Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly; Mike Anderson of the Soldotna Equestrian Association; Tom Randal of Q-100 the Point; Gary Hondel of K-BAY FM93.3; Amy Seitz of the Kenai Peninsula Ag Forum; Shelly McGahan of PEAK; and honorary celebrity waiter Rep. Mike Chennault.

"Honorary means he's sold dinner tickets, but is not able to attend," said McGinnis of the $1,500 worth of tickets Chennault, who is still in Juneau with the Legislature, has sold.

At the heart of Saturday's menu is chicken cordon bleu with asparagus in a Hollandaise sauce. Cooking will be done by Debbie Cary of Inlet View Inn.

"She volunteers her time, staff time, kitchen, everything," said McGinnis. "All I have to pay for is the food."

For dessert, diners can choose among the items baked and brought by the public and available for silent auction.

"This year we have a buy-it-now feature," said McGinnis. "You can buy one for $250 and not bid on it, and your name goes into a drawing for a clamming trip to Polly Creek."

The hard work of volunteer Monica Sallee has netted some impressive prizes to be auctioned off during the evening. There's a five-night stay in Mexico, a Kenai Fjords tour, a trip on the Alaska Railroad, a football autographed by the Colts and a baseball autographed by the Seattle Seahawks. An iPad will be given away in a drawing among those who become $200 fair supporters during the evening.

"She's wonderful," McGinnis said of Sallee's efforts. "We need more like her."

The dinner also is an opportunity for the public to see recent upgrades to the fair facilities done with funding from a Capital Improvement Grant.

"It's like walking into a whole new building," said McGinnis.

Seventh Annual

Celebrity Waiter Dinner

When:

6 p.m. Saturday

Where:

Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik

Cost:

$30 per person; $55 per couple

There's carpeting and a laminate dance floor. Bathrooms and the kitchen area have been renovated. The renovation of a community room is almost complete, needing only a few more volunteer hours.

Volunteers have been the driving force behind the work that's been completed.

"A whole new floor was basically laid under guidance of a professional floor layer, but what I have are a slew of photos of 4H children and other volunteers laying the tile and carpeting. It's so incredible what we've done. Just very awesome," said Martie Krohn, president of the fair's board of directors.

Two other Homer residents also serve on the nine-member board: Lyn Patton and Jim Stearns.

The renovations will help develop the Kenai Peninsula State Fair into a self-sustaining organization, according to McGinnis.

"You walk into (the Carol Bock Hall) and you'll see the beauty of it. It'll be a place people will want to book their parties, their weddings, everything they've got going on," said McGinnis of the 4,800-square foot space.

In May, a partnership between the fair and the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra will begin offering musical entertainment at the fairgrounds once a month.

"We'll split the proceeds with the orchestra," said Krohn. "This is a really nice partnership. They use the space for practices already, especially during the summer."

Between now and the end of the school year, the fairgrounds also are being used as the site of a construction academy, a workforce development program of the Alaska Department of Labor. The students are from Ninilchik School and Krohn is the instructor.

Ramping up for the 2012 Kenai Peninsula State Fair also is in progress. It will be held Aug. 17-19.

"I've got an entertainment line-up that's blowing my mind," said McGinnis. "It's going to be fabulous."

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

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