Set your alarm for September 16 – the "Big Bears, Big Veggies" event will be live streaming the annual bear feast, courtesy of the Alaska State Fair. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center posted the announcement yesterday, along with a terrific photo by Doug Lindstrand of an adorable bear gazing lovingly at a giant gourd.
The Alaska State Fair has become famous for its giant vegetables. The Fair explains that after the judging, many of the vegetables become the fair's property, and states that "all produce is donated to various Community Services and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center."
Anchorage Daily News provides more details about the arrangement in an article from the 2021 fair:
Every year, show-stopping vegetables draw large crowds at the Alaska State Fair. From giant cauliflowers and pumpkins to the pristine gourds, they are some of the state's most famous veggies.
So what happens to them after the fair ends?
This year, some of the bounty — close to 400 pounds — was donated to Mat-Su Senior Services in Palmer, helping feed nearly 1,200 seniors in the Mat-Su through daily home deliveries and congregate lunches at the Palmer Senior Center.
"That's a budget-saver right there," said Sarah Weideman, Mat-Su Senior Services' development and communications coordinator.
On Wednesday, boxes of potatoes, kale, peas and cauliflower lined shelves in the walk-in freezer at the Palmer Senior Center kitchen.
Vegetables were made into both a vegetarian stew and a chicken and vegetable stew, as well as side salads, as employees and volunteers worked quickly to prepare the meals for the day's lunch service.
That same year, somewhere between 800 and a thousand pounds of produce from the fair was also donated to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This year will be no exception, and I can't wait to see the bears chowing down. In the meantime, check out the fabulous feast from 2021.