Salcha Fair Board Cancels 2018 Fair, Considers Staging More Rustic ‘Country Fair’ Next Year

Jul 17, 2018

The Salcha Country Fair will not be held this year. The Salcha Fair Association’s board of directors say they canceled the event because they’re still paying bills left over by the previous board and reorganizing in preparation for relaunching the event next year.

Salcha Fair Association board president Christina Abel says when she and the other eight new members of the board took over in late April, they soon realized they wouldn’t be able to bring the fair back this year, because of problems left over by the previous board.

The Salcha Country Fair formerly was held in late June, as the sign at the fairgrounds south of Fairbanks still says. Fair Association board President Christina Abel says a previous board moved the event to late July a few years ago, to accommodate the company that provides rides and other attractions.
Credit Salcha Fair Association

“There were bills that needed to be paid, and back taxes, and all of that needed to be taken care of before we could think about a fair,” she said.

In addition to solving the fiscal issues, Abel says the all-new board members had to quickly learn the ropes while managing ongoing events at the fairgrounds located about 30 miles south of Fairbanks off the Richardson Highway. Like the concert last week sponsored by Salcha School, and soccer practice that’s held twice-weekly in one of the ballfields.

“That’s the point of the fairgrounds,” she said, “to be there for the community, and be a place that we can do activities like that.”

The fair association also wasn’t able to stage the event last year. Abel says she thinks that’s largely because organizers went too far in trying to make the fair bigger, with more rides and other such carnival-type attractions. She thinks that turned away a lot of the folks who had been showing up for the fair over the previous 35 years.
“The Salcha fair had gotten kind of away from the country fair atmosphere, and it was starting to get bigger,” she said. "And we’re kind of wanting to go back to more of the country fair-type fair, and let the Tanana Valley Fair have their big rides and all of that stuff. We want to be a little different.”

In recent years, the Salcha Country Fair introduced rides like the Big Slide, left, and Ferris wheel, shown here in the 2015 event.
Credit Salcha Fair Association

Abel says the cost of the fair was also a factor. She says all those additional attractions required the fair association to hike the price of admission and tickets to take the rides and play the midway-type games.

“The bigger the fair is, the more they have to charge for you to get in. The more you have to spend while you’re in there, because everything costs more money,” she said. “And a lot of people stopped going because it was too expensive for them to take their family. And so then when they got in there, their kids weren’t happy, because they wanted to do all the things.”

Abel says a few years ago, the board rescheduled the fair from late June to late July to accommodate all those new attractions. So the company that provides the ferris wheel and all the other rides could work in the Salcha fair before it goes to Delta Junction for the Deltana Fair in late July and to Fairbanks for the Tanana Valley Fair in early August.

She says she and other board members want to de-emphasize the carnival rides and make the Salcha event more like what she calls a “country fair” that would be held in August.

“They used to have the Salcha fair at the end of August,” she said, “and I think that’s because of harvest – people were able to harvest their big vegetables and show them off.”

Agriculture is big in Salcha, and Abel says she thinks people would be more interested in a fair that offered more ag-related events. Like the Deltana Fair, which she and her family often goes to.

“The tractor pull was always our favorite. And the games that they let the kids play beforehand. That actually gave me some of the ideas for the 2016 fair – some of the games that I had out there for the kids to play.”

The Deltana Fair and Music Festival will as usual feature many agriculture-related events this year, including its first Kids Rodeo, as well as the always popular local 4-H and Future Farmers of America’s prize-winning livestock show. But the fair also will feature the annual music fest – and a demolition derby, which was a big hit last year. It’ll also include a lot of carnival rides.

Editor's note: To find out more about the Salcha Country Fair, contact fair association board President Christina Abel at