KODIAK — The Kodiak Island Drummers take their music to the Alaska State Fair this weekend.
This will be the first time in seven years that the Kodiak Island Drummers have played at the state fair, although they have been asked to appear almost every year. The group has been unable to travel back due to finances, until now.
“They don’t just ask any group to the state fair,” group leader Michael Daquioag said, “especially since they saved us for the Labor Day weekend, so that’s big.”
An even bigger deal is that the state fair offered to pay for the airline tickets for the 26 chaperones and players who are going.
“They’ve been trying to get us to go, but this is the first time they’ve paid for most of the trip,” Daquioag said. “They pay for out of state groups, never in state.”
The group also had to raise a few thousand dollars by holding fundraisers. They didn’t hit their $4,000 target, but raised enough to make the trip happen. Companies in Anchorage also offered deals to help make the trip more affordable.
“We’ve raised enough money to barely go,” Daquioag said. “The parents and chaperones are the backbone and my support. We didn’t know for sure if we could go because we didn’t know if we could come up with the money.”
Most of the players going have never played at the state fair before, and some have been part of the Kodiak Island Drummers for less than six months.
“I’m feeling excited,” sixth-grader Jadon Risse said. “I’m glad I get to go. It is a pretty cool experience to be able to.”
Risse has been playing with the Kodiak Island Drummers for only a month.
“I’m expecting craziness,” said Jacob Hartt, a four-year drummer for the group. “I’ve only traveled once before with the group and played in a gym with 200 people,” Hartt said. “This will be a lot bigger scale. We’re excited to go.”
Nina Gronn has been playing with the group since she was in the second grade. She has already graduated high school, and has played with the Kodiak Island Drummers at the state fair several times.
“I’ve been to the state fair two or three times with Mr. D.,” Gronn said.
“You get nervous, but once you’re on there you’re so excited to see people smiling and jamming out. It’s a good accomplishment.”
The group will play two performances per day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They also plan to play in downtown Anchorage Friday night. Each performance lasts an hour and ten minutes.
Kodiak Island Drummers is made up of drummers ages 6 to 16. The group plays fast and slow songs on hand drums. They practice two times a week year-round, and perform at local events like Crab Festival.