Tag Archive: Tanana Valley State Fair

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

The double wedding ring is a classic pattern of the early 20th Century. My parents had a double wedding ring quilt on their bed, though it was coming unstitched by the time I inherited it. Sadly, it was one of the things I lost in the fire. This one is a slight variant on the usual pattern, in shades of gray.

Double wedding ring with checkerboard alternation of centers.

Double wedding ring with checkerboard alternation of centers.

Flower and Diamond Medallion Quilts

These aren’t quite traditional medallion quilts, but they’re close.

Flower garlands are the theme in this quilt, but each medallion uses a different pattern, and the center differs from any of the surrounding blocks.

Flower garlands are the theme in this quilt, but each block uses a different pattern, and the center differs from any of the surrounding blocks.

This could be described as a single diamond medallion.

This could be described as a single diamond medallion. Note the combination of curved and straight lines.

Medallion Quilts

I have three more blog slots open in August, so I’ll show you the rest of the quilts I photographed from the Tanana Valley State Fair. These are both what I’d call medallion designs.

This, with a single medallion, was one of my favorites.

This, with a single medallion, was one of my favorites.

This one uses lots of medallions, each with the same piecing pattern and fabrics, but with the fabrics combined in different ways.

This one uses lots of medallions, each with the same piecing pattern and fabrics, but with the fabrics combined in different ways.

Geometric quilts


I thought I’d show you a couple of Fair quilts with geometric, almost monotone patterns today. This one’s diamonds in browns and beiges, with just a touch of light blue.

And this one's diagonal stripes, in browns and greens.

And this one’s diagonal stripes, in grays, taupes and green.

The Fair Horse Shows

As should be obvious by now – perhaps painfully obvious – I don’t get much else done during the ten days of the Tanana Valley State Fair. I love fair food (though all I can eat are the gyros and now and then the crepes.) I always take in the quilt show. I check out the giant vegetables, the fiber arts competition, and the various organizational booths, though there was a little too much politics for my taste this year. I look at (and occasionally buy) the locally handmade jewelry. I take my annual Ferris wheel ride. (Why does my spell checker insist that “Ferris” must be capitalized?)

red dun head

This one’s a red dun, with a well-marked dorsal stripe.

But all of these are fitted in around the horse shows.

I used to ride, and I still love the classes I used to compete in. I am also on the lookout for horses of unusual colors to use as illustrations for the series I did last year on the genetics of horse coat color. I don’t have all those photos on the old posts yet, but I’ll get them there. I do wish the fair made it easier for spectators!

Silver Dapple horse

Silver Dapple; Rocky Mountain Horse.

The classes I most want to watch, such as dressage, normally start about 9 am. The Fairgrounds officially open at noon. I’ve learned that I can enter early through the livestock gate, though it’s a long walk (with a cane these days, when I’m walking on rough ground) to the horse arenas. This year, though, my hanging around photographing the horses got noticed by the second show, and the superintendent of that show presented me with a pass that actually let me park inside the fairgrounds, by the arenas. Even the man in charge of the gate, who’d obviously been worried by my heading down the dirt road with a cane every day, seemed pleased.

4H Dressage

4-H Dressage

This year was a ten-day fair, with three 3-day horse shows and a 1-day game day (Pony Club.) I went to all of them, and only missed photos the last day, when my camera battery quit. (Yes, I had a spare. An hour’s round trip away, in the plugged-in charger.) This post is mostly sharing photos, though I mainly watch dressage and jumping.

Decorated for the games

The chestnut spots are natural. The others?

Friday through Sunday was a AQHA show, though they had all-breed classes. No dressage, and the jumps were pretty low, but I did get some shots of interesting colors, including a silver dapple, a red dun and a rabicano.

Rabicano chestnut horse

This boy is what’s called a rabicano, with roaning in a brindle pattern on the flank and sides and a white tail base.

Monday through Wednesday was the 4-H show, and they did have dressage. I got some more shots of colors, including head markings. I’m showing only a sampling here, though quite a few will wind up posted to the blogs on horse color genetics. Check back in a few weeks.

Thursday was games, and some of the horses sported interesting decorations. An appaloosa was enhanced with pink and green, and a chestnut was decked out with gold foil stars and a ribbon in her tail. One black or very dark bay had hearts painted on her hip and neck.

Pas de deux dressage

Pas de deux dressage, to music.

Friday through Sunday was the Interior Horsemen’s Association show, and I met some of my old friends from the Jammie Jamboree, including Sport. (He won his halter class.) This show did have dressage, including a pas de deux to music. Also jumping, with some of the jumps a little higher – but that was the day my camera battery quit on me. At any rate I enjoyed watching, especially the backyard jumping class. Ever see a jump of feed sacks, or one festooned with pink flamingoes? Next time I’m going to bring a spare charged battery!

Colored-leaf geranium and delphiniumThe sun rose at 5:33 this morning and will set at 10:16 this evening for 16 hours 43 minutes of daylight. We’re losing almost 7 minutes a day, and the sun at noon is now less than 40° above the horizon. We’re definitely on the down slope of summer, though the farmers market is now loaded with produce. The local carrots are here, and wonderfully sweet and crisp compared with what we can get at the supermarket. I don’t even bother to buy tomatoes except in summer.

liliesMy own garden is winding down too, in some ways. Starting in the middle of July I had first Summer Arts Festival, then a family reunion. I was back three days when the fair started, and just finished the last of the nine days of fair yesterday. (I was trying to get photos and succeeded most days, but yesterday I forgot to charge the battery on my camera.) It’s been a mixed week for rain – fairly nice Monday, a little rain for the 4-H horse show Tuesday and Wednesday, and generally nice to downright hot (70’s) for the rest of the fair week. My first few years up here it was a standing joke that it always rained on the fair, so I really can’t complain. But the garden has been pretty much fending for itself for nearly a month now, and the chickweed is definitely winning.

The delphiniums are going to seed, as are most of the perennials. The last of the lilies are just opening. I need to go through and pick beans, zucchini and snow peas, and possibly take what I can’t eat to the food bank. The weather is forecast to be clear and warm, so maybe I can get rid of the worst of the chickweed. At least there are no frost warnings yet, though we’re getting into the 40’s most nights now.

I have nothing at all against cabbage. In fact, I like it—in moderation. I don’t grow it for two reasons. First, even a supermarket-sized head of cabbage would go bad long before I finished eating it. It is not a vegetable sized for a single person living alone.

Giant Cabbage

Junior (left) and All-age giant cabbage Champions.

Second, moose adore cabbage—or anything else in the cabbage (cole) family. They will go down a row of cabbages, taking a bite out of each head. I’ve grown broccoli in pots, behind a six-foot chain-link fence, but for me, cabbage just isn’t worth the trouble.

Still, cabbage and cole crops in general really love Alaskan summers. Lots of people grow them here. They boast of their size. So it is no real surprise that the vegetable heart of state fairs here in Alaska tends to be the giant cabbage weigh-in.

There are other prize ribbons for the heaviest vegetable: zucchini, pumpkin, round squash, long squash, cucumber, turnip, rutabaga, beet, radish, kohlrabi, and tomato all get ribbons for the largest. (Notice that all but the tomato are either cole crops or cucurbits?) But they get ribbons like any other class. The giant cabbage winner gets a cash prize of a dollar a pound, and the competition is cutthroat, though more for the honor than the money. Potential entrants are guarded from moose, fed and watered as carefully as any of the animals shown, and anxiously watched over by their growers. Finally, the first Saturday of the fair, comes the great event: the giant cabbage weigh-in, announced by itself in the fair entry book.

This year’s winner in the adult division was 62.99 pounds, the weight proudly displayed, along with the championship ribbon, on the winning cabbage. Even the junior winner was a respectable 43.34 pounds.

What one does with a cabbage of this size is a matter of speculation. Invite the whole neighborhood in for a celebration, and sacrifice the winner to make cole slaw? Make a very large batch of sauerkraut? Perhaps a Great Pye large enough for four and twenty ravens? (No, that’s not totally crazy; I have a cookbook of English traditional recipes, and the one for a Great Pye is based on cabbage.  And we certainly have enough ravens in Alaska.)

Whatever the ultimate fate of the winner, it reigns in glory for the week of the fair.

Tanana Valley State Fair Quilt Show

One of the things I always attend at the Fair is the Quilt show. Without further ado, here are some of my favorites from this year’s entries.

Quilt display

The quilts are fastened to horizontal bars which can be swung out from the wall.


This was my pick for viewer’s choice.

Grand Champion Quilt

This quilt won the Grand Championship.


This one really caught my eye.


I love the subtlety of this one.


This one embodied the fair them, “The Age of Asparagus.” Well, I think there’s some asparagus mixed in with all the other vegetables.


There are 25 different red fabrics used in this one.


And would you believe this is a flat, two-dimensional quilt?

This year I’m including thumbnails of a few more quilts. Just click on the thumbnails to see larger versions. The last two are the Junior Grand Champion (how many skulls can you find?) and the Grand Champion wall hanging.

QuiltquiltsQuiltQuiltquiltquiltJunior Grand ChampionGrand Champion Wall hanging

It’s Fair Time!

The Tanana Valley State Fair is open!

rabicano horse

This horse is a rabicano, with white at the tail base and white hairs is a striped pattern on the sides.

This year it runs from August 3rd through the 12th – a full week plus two weekends. The theme is “The Age of Asparagus” which rather surprises me – asparagus, while supposedly marginally hardy here in Alaska, is not widely grown. Certainly I’ve never had any luck with it.

My main interest is the horse shows, which are always poorly covered in the fair schedule, and usually have the classes that most interest me (jumping and dressage) before noon, when the gates are not yet open. I’ve found out how to handle that this year – show up early and go in the livestock gate! But they certainly don’t make it easy for spectators. I did get some photos of unusual colors today, and will be adding them to the posts on horse color genetics.

Fair concession area

Pretty early, and the sky was threatening. But the vendors were there and ready.

It was a cloudy day, threatening rain, and attendance was sparse. All the better for getting around, as far as I was concerned. The gyros booth was open, so I’ll probably again have gyros for lunch most days during the fair season. I find I can assume 55 grams of carbohydrate for one and it works beautifully for calculating the insulin I need. Most other fair food is very hard to calculate, and of course some (such as elephant ears and fried candy bars) is just about impossible for someone with diabetes.

My usual blogging schedule will vary a little over the next week. I’ll have the normal blogs on Six Sentence Sunday, Meteorological Monday, Quotation Wednesday and Jarn’s Journal Friday, but the other days will probably be about the fair in some way. Certainly I’ll try to get the quilt show in again!