The unofficial "Last Blast of Summer," the Alaska State Fair, begins this Thursday in Palmer, kicking off 12 days of fun and excitement. The Alaska State Fair is Alaska's largest event and has exhibits and demonstrations, a great lineup of concerts, and of course, the "fair food."

For information on ways to save on admission, click HERE. Throughout the fair's 12 days, there's a bevy of entertainment options that are free with fair admission, including a lumberjack show, musicians at several venues throughout the fairgrounds, contests, games and much more. Make sure you spend some time going through the exhibits and see some of the amazing arts, crafts and flowers.

The famous giant cabbages don't get weighed in until next weekend, but there's still opportunities to see some record-breaking giant vegetables in the farm exhibit building throughout the fair. It's also the place to find all the 4-H animals.

A few of the highlights for the opening weekend include Energy Day on Thursday, kids under 12 can get into the fair for $2 from noon to 2 p.m. with a suggested donation of two shelf-stable food items. On Friday, it's Kid's Day, which children 12 and younger free all day. There will be kid's games, the diaper derby, toddler trot and the junior rodeo. On Saturday, it's Family Day. Start with the parade in downtown Palmer at 11 a.m., then head to the fairgrounds where kids 12 and younger can save $2 off admission with a suggested donation of two shelf-stable food items per child. On Sunday, it's Destination Day, which highlights all there is to experience in Alaska. The Alaska Seafood Throwdown tops the day's list of activities. 

The fair is open from noon to 10 p.m. on weekdays (including opening day on Thursday) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Check out to the Alaska State Fair's web site here for complete daily schedules, as well as ways to save on admission on the various days.

Check out some of the fun these people had at last year's fair: