Fur Rondy is the dorkiest festival around and you should all come up to AK to take part. Except PETA people, May I recommend The Gilroy Garlic Festival instead?
Why do people visit Alaska in the summer when winter is so much cooler and cheaper? No lines, lots of snow and ice to play with, no pesky mosquitoes, tons of moose cruising around, gigantic scary snowplows attempting to eat up your car parked on the side of the road and driving is always quite exhilarating. Besides it’s about time everyone in Alaska woke up and hung out together. I spent a couple of hours downtown on Saturday and midtown on Sunday so here’s what I’ve got to show for it.
Fur Rendezvous is a festival/fair which grew out of trappers bringing in their goods at the end of February to sell in town Maybe this was because the bears start to wake up them, not sure. This is only a small part of the festival today but it still exists.
It’s freakin’ cold out during Fur Rondy so you may be tempted to buy a coat only you have to get it a piece at a time
As in any festival, people watching is prime. I would say the outfits here are better, certainly more functional, than the Oscars but then I’m partial to men attempting to out dress the ladies as in the photo below.
Right next door to the Fur auction is the midway. There is absolutely no line for any ride. The views are gorgeous but bring a blanket.
The blanket toss takes place in this same area but you don’t have to provide your own blanket. This is probably the most popular event at Fur Rondy in terms of participation so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get tossed, they always need tossers. The blanket toss (as in getting tossed in the air as if to spot seals or caribou on flat land or ice) is like handheld trampoline so it takes a crowd to make it work.
Then there’s the sled dog race. It’s not the longest distance or the shortest. It’s around 90 minutes, kind of like how the winner of the mile race in the Olympics is just as exceptional as the fastest sprinter or marathoner. When I got downtown the officials were going around to each truck to find out which dogs were definitely running and other last minute details.
I didn’t think the snow sculptures would be carved yet as it was only the second day of Rondy but I was surprised. My favorite was The Kraken. That’s because it’s scary. Some of the other sculptures were scary but in a religious way. Others were intricate or cute. I’m guessing they might have copied this from a sand sculpture competition somewhere as we don’t have many longships, although we have some cross country skiiers who look a lot like Vikings.
I told you there were moose. The exit from the snow sculptures was all backed up because a couple of moose were galloping by and no one wanted to frighten them.
Last year I wore two pairs of pants and watched the Yukigassen for an hour but this year they moved it out of downtown. Yukigassen is a team snowball fight combined with capture the flag. It was exciting but it costs to get a team together and enter the fray. I purposefully skip the running of the reindeer. Reindeer have been bred to be docile, like cows. They might as well have running with the kittens or running with the chickens. I visited a reindeer farm once and they surround you because they know you have a handful of food. They’ve been conditioned to leave when you put your hands up and show them you have no food left. Running with the moose would be more like Pamploma and there would be blood, all of it human.
This year, despite my better judgement, I chose to go to the skating oval behind the library and skate race. I dressed for the costume race but also wound up doing the relay. I was in figure skates but happily only about half the folks had speed skates and the ones who were really good were forced to start way back so they wouldn’t lap us. The speed skating club brought hot potato soup, cocoa and lots of encouragement. The relay almost killed me. I was on a team with Chuck, the organizer. I went out for the first lap then tagged him for the second only he was so fast I hadn’t caught me breath by the time he came by so the other folks told me to wave him by and do the last lap instead. None of the other racers noticed because we were last. My legs were like wood coming around the last curve. Now for good form take a look at this guy who won the 1000 meter race. He and his girlfriend had to start way behind even in the bucket race because they were out of our league.
And then there’s me. I got a guy named Kevin with a Boston accent thicker than mine to take my picture. He raced in hockey skates.
Last photo is my souvenir. There were a couple selling these mittens out of their truck down by the snow sculptures. I have been obsessing over these felted sweater things for a while but they usually cost over $100. These were just $50. Score!