It was an adult summer camp. Not in that way. I grew up near a beach so there was never any reason to go to summer camp. I’m glad I finally did because of the wacky adventures I had. The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival attracts people who want to have fun, try something new, and do it way far away from everyone they know. Fairbanks people are cool. They aren’t out to impress anyone with their fancy -danciness so they wind up impressing you with their homey smoked salmon, moose sausage, and fancy spoon playin’.
The road to Fairbanks is absolutely lovely even in the pouring rain, with Pilot cars to help you navigate the many miles of construction. Once you get there you might have to get over the several expressways, multiple Safeways and mini-mallness of this small city because it’s cuter than you think. I stayed at The University of Alaska Fairbanks dorms. Here’s the greeter.
It’s only $30. a night and there are all sorts of interesting researchers and adult travellers sharing your bathroom and kitchen. My adventures included someone putting up an “out of order” sign on the ladies room, I believe just because they didn’t like the door slamming. I wasn’t sure, so I showered on the next floor down then wound up quite wet and underclothed on the elevator back up with gentleman wearing a suit with nice rolling luggage. I had my tooth brush and shampoo in a recycled Safeway bag.
On the other hand I met a man at the ice cream machine who asked me to have salmon with him the next night. I was impressed that there was an ice cream machine in the dorm. I bought a raspberry sundae ice cream pop, then watched one of the travellers show his photos from Mor0cco on the TV. Some of the researchers also helped me get unlost when I attempted to hike the UAF trail system. My first mistake was assuming that this was the correct trail.
This is Cotton Grass. It only grows where it is very wet! I wound up throwing away my socks because they were crawling with unidentifiable water bugs. Then when I got to next part I thought I was lost in space.
Had I had stumbled on part of the High Frequency Auroral Research Project? HAARP is more of an array of antennas. This is probably just to allow the Physical Education Staff to enjoy Monday Night Football. Luckily a researcher and her dog jogged by just as I was beginning to be devoured by the mosquitoes in the the air and the bugs in my socks. Also it began to rain. I got home and did not practice my dancing.
I took Irish dance, spoons and lilting with this fellow here.
Below is a link to his profile as a performer/ teacher.
The best thing about Niall is that he gets that some of the folks in his class are dancers and some are just out of their minds like me. He kept encouraging me to “Just keep going in the same direction as the other girls.” I had blisters on my toes but I did learn a routine even if I forget it now. He also had us doing “The Walls of Limerick” which is kind of what our gym teacher, Mrs Cero, taught us as square dancing. I was good at this because of my elementary school training and because I love doing things with partners. Call me lonely and desperate but I was workin’ those Walls of Limerick. We wound up dancing this with the Irish session musician class at The Hot Licks Ice Cream stand on College Ave. We grabbed a few tourists to make it work. It was so much fun that we did it without the music afterwards so they could get a video. I had Arctic Slope Berry Snap ice cream which had bits of ginger snap in it. Awesome!
Here is what the dance is supposed to look like.
We looked a bit less Irish than them.
Have you ever wondered how people play the spoons? Probably not. Did you know that keeping a “bicycle” (jig) or “motorcycle” (reel) beat is quite fast? Even better, we learned some fancy handwork and looked and sounded awfully funny. I think the guy in the following video is a good example. He seems to be wearing some sort of official very tight spoon pants.
Then there’s the lilting or “diddle-dee-dee ‘ing”
You can learn some lilting tricks but when it comes down to it you have to kind of make up the words each time, although it’s good to know where a diddley, doodley. or such might fit in best. It helps if you know the tune. I loved how Niall told us you wind up saying “Die” a lot so you might want to change it a bit so it doesn’t get too morbid.
I learned some stuff, had lots of laughs, sweated my arse off in a hot dance studio then slept in a single bed on the eighth floor locking my room when I went to the bathroom just like I used to do when I was seventeen. You can do it too. They have the festival every year.