In our own Backyard

Story last updated at 3:10 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

KENAI PENINSULA STATE FAIR: "phenomenal"

In our own backyard

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

"Phenomenal," is the one word Lara McGinnis, manager of the Kenai Peninsula State Fair, used to sum up this year's fair, held Aug. 17-19.

"We had more than 7,500 people at the fair this year," she said of record-breaking crowds.

Fair-goers from the peninsula and visitors from across the state, the Lower 48 and beyond swarmed to the Ninilchik fairgrounds on Friday, taking advantage of sunny skies. Clouds and chilly temperatures on Saturday and Sunday didn't slow things down, however, as available parking filled, lines in front of food vendors stretched and cheers from entertainment-watching crowds grew louder.

"I think with the economy being as tough as it is, everyone needed a place to go, to feel good and remember that we're all going to make it," said McGinnis, who found time to wander around and get feedback.

"They loved it all, from Woody's Menagerie to the rodeo to the Canine All Stars to the Swinging Golden Girls. Every single piece of it was perfect."

Among her "best fair moments," McGinnis has a new one to add as a result of new handicap-accessible rodeo bleachers.

"A gentleman that has been volunteering in the rodeo for probably 30 years is a paraplegic. This weekend, he was up there, on the bleachers, dropping the flags for team penning just like he has for years, but this time he could see what was going on. He called me up there and said, 'Look at me.' It was amazing," said McGinnis.

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