So UAA has an honest-to-goodness, real log cabin parked on the grounds of the Alaska State Fair. Apparently Matanuska-Susitna College has a cabin building course every so often and the cabin is the product of the 1982 class. (Photos coming later.)
So we spent the day hanging out at the State Fair (and are still here–since the day isn’t over yet.) It’s been interesting and we’ve learned a few things. One is that if you want to entice people into a cabin set back a few feet from the main traffic path, you need to have something with which to entice them. Apparently freebies are a big thing. Our departmental bookmarks weren’t quite the ticket! Some of that may be institutional memory though: passersby told us all sorts of things about previous years handouts which apparently included water bottles, sporting event tickets, and even a raffle for a semester’s tuition. (Really? C’mon, really?) Also, some sort of decor on the outside of the cabin is helpful. We finally took the UAA tablecloth and draped it over the railing out front so at least people could see who was in this log cabin plus we took some of the UAA promo photos and stuck those to the front side of the cabin too.
Bringing along laptops was a very good idea as the wireless was good enough. As was munchies–fair food is, well, fair food. And at some point, you just need crackers and water to balance out all the sugar and fat. We also brought handwork projects–which brought in a few people interested in what we were doing (Arlene: handquilting a baby quilt, MC: knitting a scarf) who then stuck around to ask other questions. Oh, and having other people around? A very good idea indeed. Dawn from the Medical Library and Deb from Instruction and Reference came and provided some breaks for us–Dawn stuck around for about 7 hours! (Thank you Dawn.) And we had some company from one of the employees in Enrollment Services who was here from 12-6 too.
And we had tons of questions we couldn’t answer. A bunch of people thought that we’d have building instructions for the cabin to hand out. Those we suggested contact Mat-Su College to inquire about the course. And some people asked questions about University activities that we couldn’t answer nor could we find on the UAA website. So that part wasn’t a success.
But we did connect with a few researchers and pointed them to sources they didn’t know about (and some had a few favorite research sites to share with us too). So that was good. 12 hours worth of good? Probably not. But that’s more of a logistical issue: many fair-goers aren’t aware that the cabin switches possession daily between university groups, so they had no way of knowing that this was the Archives Day (note to self: maybe investigate the creation of some sort of travelworthy banner…) And hey, we did get some really amazing cream puffs that contained about a week’s worth of cholesterol, plus some super absorbent rayon chamois that we can use in case of another flood, so this day probably comes out in the plus column. Hey, it’s a fair. What would a fair be without buying some really naughty food and some household product from the midway?