Forest Fair

Last year the Girdwood Forest Fair, perhaps one of Alaska’s largest music venues, was canceled due to large crowds of uncontrollable fans who participated in illegal parking, drug usage, underage drinking, and fighting according to an article from the Juneau Empire in May of 2008.

This year it returns bigger, better, and more groovy than ever. Fans will flock to this event by the thousands, overfilling the tiny little town of Girdwood. In order to avoid any mishaps that may cause future cancellations and to know how best to spend those short three days in Girdwood, here is a quick overview on what will be discouraged and what will be happening at Girdwood Forest Fair 2009.

From July 3 to July 5 (Friday through Sunday) there will be a wave of non-stop music on not only one, but two stages at the fair. The Marlow Pavilion and the Beach Stage will be holding different performers at the same time so if one band does not float your boat simply switch stages. Big Alaska names that will be making an appearance include The Whipsaws, Stray Dogma, Melissa Mitchell, and Rogues and Wenches.

Every day the festival begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. This holds true for the start and end time for performances and there are no breaks. On top of the musical entertainment, there will be a parade at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 4 open for the public to submit floats to. To participate in the parade, visit the official Forest Fair site for contact information.

Not only will music and a parade be involved, many booths will be set up at the festivals, some meant to entertain children, some meant to feed the hungry festival-goers, and some meant to be arts and crafts stations. The Forest Fair is meant to be designed off of a 60’s style fair.

And although the slogan of the fair is “No dogs, no politics, no religious orders,” it is still a child friendly function. This means that responsible drinking is advised and drug usage is outlawed. Last year when people could not handle themselves the fair was shut down. Hopefully this year people will be able to control themselves and the extra measures taken to help the fair go underway will have an effect.

One problem as to why the fair was cancelled in 2008 had to be the excessive amount of people showing up and illegally parking and camping. The camp permit is $25 a person for a day and the rate increases by $25 for every extra day a person is camping. It is highly advised that permits get purchased in advanced seeing as they will vanish from existence with the approaching of the fair. If one does not want to camp, then carpooling or taking advantage of the shuttle out to Girdwood is another option to reduce crowds. This is highly recommended since all the parking in this event will be allocated at the small Alyeska day lodge parking lot. I assure you it was not designed to hold over 5000 Forest Fair fans and their cars.

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The fair grounds are located at mile 2.2 on Alyeska Highway in the community park, and the parking lots there will not have room either. The vendors number over 150 and they will need a place to go too. The fair grounds have everything in stock from volleyball and tennis courts to a kid’s playground and designated area for the little ones.

Over the past 30 years the Girdwood Forest Fair has grown from a small hometown tradition to a statewide phenomenon that everyone wants to be a part of. The sheer numbers it attracts is astounding yet almost unsettling at times. Hopefully in the years to come the Forest Fair will continue to grow in a positive way and last year’s setback will remain just that.