What's Happening at the Palmer Midsummer Garden & Art Faire?

Contributed by Selena Ortega-Chiolero

The PMGAF is a one day event that occurs the second Saturday of July from 10:00AM to 8:00PM in downtown Palmer. It is comprised of five components: Free cooking, gardening and art classes (focusing on addressing issues about eating local, sustaining healthy habits and promoting the arts), the Rhubarb Rumble (a cooking contest promoting the use of local ingredients and creating a demand for local produce as a commercial product, primarily rhubarb), live local musical and cultural performances (comprised of both amateurs and professionals), vendors (local art, crafts, nurseries, food and non-profit information tables), and the Palmer Art Walk (local art exhibits, demonstrations, and art activities involving ten local businesses in the downtown area).  

The event is coordinated by the Palmer Museum with a planning committee consisting of members from local nurseries, businesses, art, garden and state organizations. Its target audience is all-inclusive: Members of the community, visiting tourists, all ages, men, women and children.  In 2015, the PMGAF had an approximate attendance of 1,600 people with even the Alaska state governor in attendance.

Majority of the activity occurs on the green space adjacent to the Mat-Su Borough Building. At that location, there are live musical performances and vendors selling their wares throughout the day. Free instructional cooking, gardening and art classes are also taught throughout the day at the Palmer Public Library and in the Palmer Museum’s Showcase Garden. 

From 2:00 – 4:00PM, the Rhubarb Rumble takes place on the Borough Green with a tasting station offering free samples of our entries to the public who then determine the winner by voting for their favorite recipe. From 2:00 – 6:00PM, the Palmer Art Walk takes place at seven local businesses throughout town where they feature either an artist exhibit, demonstration or art-making opportunity. 

To increase awareness about the ethnic communities that reside in our state, there will be live cultural performances by Mariachi Agave Azul and Ballet Folklorico Xochitlquetzal Tiqun from Anchorage, and Yup’ik singer, Byron Nicholai of I Sing, You Dance fame on YouTube.  

This year, we are growing the event by including a Palmer Wine Walk fundraiser encompassing the Palmer Art Walk to be held Friday afternoon the day before the Faire; plus, a competition entitled the Topihairy Challenge that will be a garden-inspired hair stylist competition during the day of the Faire amongst our local salons.