Story last updated at 4:22 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2002

As a child, late summer meant several things for the Betster. As the season grew older and the days grew hotter, so would the fishing, heating up to a boil. It also meant the farm stands and corner markets were flush with fresh fruits and vegetables, from vine-ripened tomatoes to firm ears of corn. The young Betster spent weekends tramping through the crowds at county fairs, sucking on caramel apples and feeling like a part of something big and homey. Now, the Betster's no longer a child, and living 4,000 miles from home, but this time of year still heralds the same happy things.

BEST ALL'S-FAIR-IN-LOVE-AND-WAR BET: The 51st annual Kenai Peninsula State Fair opens its doors this weekend at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds. Join 10,000 of your closest friends and neighbors and be a part of the "Biggest Little Fair in Alaska." In addition to the exhibits of livestock, food and crafts, more than 100 vendors will be peddling their wares for you to sample. Live music will be performed throughout the weekend, which also will boast a dance, a parade, a road race and a fireworks display. Fairgrounds open at 9 a.m. Friday.

BEST YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY TOM-AH-TO BET: The Homer Farmers' Market continues every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Ocean Drive, across from Scruggs Automotive. Now in its third year, the market features vendors of locally grown produce, baked treats and hand-crafted goods, and is an excellent place to stock up your fridge's vegetable crisper with Alaska's finest fresh produce.

BEST OTHER-SOURCE-FOR-FRESH-PRODUCE BET: Fresh Produce, Homer's own seasonal improvisation group, will perform for the public today, Friday and Saturday at the Art Barn on East End Road. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for students, and are available at the door beginning at 7:15 p.m. For more information, call 235-6589.

BEST ALL-THAT-GLITTERS-IS-NOT-GOLD BET : Silver salmon fishing is boiling toward a crescendo of late, with increasing numbers of fish shimmering beneath the surface at the Fishing Hole and local rivers. Tides are beginning to pick up steam, which should coincide with the run in a way that benefits local anglers. Dolly Varden fishing remains good, with bright sea-run fish tempting fly- and spin-fishermen alike in local streams.

BEST GOLF-AT-YOUR-LEISURE TOURNAMENT BET: The Homer Lynx Golf Course is hosting its Homer Open golf tournament, which runs today through Aug. 31. Following a Byzantine rule system, the four-round tourney offers two-round play-in format with players to be flighted by their first two rounds. The first two rounds have to be played by Aug. 22, and the final two rounds will determine the championship. It's still less confusing than keeping score in bowling. Tournament entry costs $20. For more information call 235-0606.

BEST SWIM ONE FOR THE TEAM BET: The Homer High School swimming team will host its Skills and Drills Day on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. The Mariners will be on hand to teach kids, or adults, various helpful swimming tricks. The program is a Mariner swim team fund-raiser and admission is $15 or a donation to the team. Some swimming experience is required. Call the Homer High School pool at 235-7416 for more information.