Alaska welcomes you to summer

Festivals are just a short drive away

While travel by car seems prohibitive with gas prices at an all-time high of $5.51 in June, a drive to a festival may be the cure for he several years of isolation due to the pandemic.

Get out and meet your fellow Alaskans or travel to a town you once lived in and see old friends.

Kachemak Bay Highland Games, July 2-3, Homer. Men in skirts! Highland games of skill like tossing the caber – a big hunk of wood as far as you can. Clan regalia will be on sale. On Saturday night at 6:30 p.m., there's a Ceilidh with Whisky Jacks and The Harp Twins. Sunday is the award ceremony with a potluck for athletes and their families. Tickets are $10 a day.

Peony Celebration, July 8-30, Homer. Who knew Homer has a whopping 25 peony farms, but it makes sense. Homer's cool, misty hillsides and fields offer perfect growing conditions for this sweet-smelling perennial. There's art exhibitions, great food, farm tours, concerts and even a Peonies and Pints event with a visit to a farm then on to purchase a pint at the Homer Brewing Co.

Salmon Jam! Salmon Festival, July 11-16 in Cordova. Cordova's arts and crafts festival, Dumpster painting, small fry activities, live performances and races for all ages. And salmon, salmon, salmon to eat! $30 per weekend music performance. If you fly, Alaska Airlines has a discount code.

Chugiak-Eagle River Bear Paw Festival, July 13-17. "It Takes Two to Tango!" is this year's theme. See classic cars, Teddy Bear Picnic, Slippery Salmon Olympics, Classic Car Show, cornhole tournament, Bear Paw Motorcycle Show, and much more.

Golden Days, July 16-23 in Fairbanks. Enjoy Alaska's largest parade, wander along the street fair, bet on the Rubber Duckie Race, or try your luck in the Poke of Gold Hunt and follow the clues on the Chamber of Commerce page to find that nugget.

Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, July 17-31. Join other performers no matter your level of mastery to rehearse and then perform on stage. Fees range from $100 to work with the opera and musical theater group, or attend the Accordion Concert for free. Tickets for concerts and performances range from free to $10.

Bearfest, July 27-31, Wrangell. There's a Bear Symposium with such topics as "How Bear-Viewing Sites Can Advance Conservation and Community Businesses," and of course daily bear tours, a "Beary" pie contest, read a story with a Forest Service interpreter, a photo workshop, half and full marathon, and a smoked salmon contest.

50th Southeast Alaska State Fair, July 28-31 in Haines. See how Southeast celebrates its state fair. While not as large as Palmer's, it does offer a more intimate experience. "Salmon Enchanted Evening," is the theme, with four days of music and entertainment, contests, attractions, exhibits, food and shopping vendors. Seniors 65 and older with ID pay $30 for a four-day pass (or $24 early bird) or $10 a day.

Deltana Fair and Music Festival, July 22-24 in Delta Junction. This year's festivities theme, "Where the Highway Ends, the Fun Begins," includes a blueberry pie contest, the Pipeline Run, Miss Deltana and Cutest Baby Contest, live music, and the annual parade. Then there's Dr. Crusberg's Memorial Pet Show - if your pet does tricks and/or is adorable, enter them for free for a chance at stardom. Seniors 60 and older, $7.

Progress Days, July 21-24, Soldotna. Events include a parade, family activities, free community picnic and much more. Check the website for updates.

Tanana Valley State Fair, July 29-August in Fairbanks. Celebrate the 97th annual state fair of the far north with new vendors, entertainment and live events, midway rides, exciting exhibits and more.

Gold Rush Days, Aug. 3-7 in Valdez. Look back on Valdez's golden age with Can Can Girls, a traveling Hoosegow, local market, food vendors and parade.

Alaska State Fair, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 in Palmer. Yes, there's amusement park rides, but you must see the giant cabbage and pumpkin winners that celebrate Alaska's summer light. Celebrate Mat-Su's agricultural importance to the state, checking out the many farm animals in the livestock pavilion ,. Performing is a blast from the past - Blue Oyster Cult, known for its 1978 hit "Don't Fear the Reaper," and the Brothers Osborne "I'm Not for Everyone," and who won a Grammy this year for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. All kinds of food is to be had, including the heavyweight, heart-unhealthy corn dog. The fair is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Seniors 65 and older with ID: $7 per day Mondays and Thursdays; $8 Friday-Sunday and $50 season pass.

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