Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fur Rondy 2012

The Fur Rondy Festival is a 77 year tradition. It is a significant part of the history and tradition of Anchorage. In the mid 1930's, Anchorage was just a small town of about 3,000 people.

Vern Johnson, the father of the Fur Rendezvous, was a likeable, outgoing Anchorage citizen with a keen understanding of social conditions. He and his friends decided to establish a 3-day Festival to coincide with the time that the miners and trappers came to town with their winter's yield. It began as a three-day sports tournament on February 15, 16 and 17, 1935 and featured skiing, hockey, basketball, boxing and a children's sled dog race down Fourth Avenue. Nearly the entire population of Anchorage turned out for the bonfire and torchlight parade.
Since then, the Fur Rendezvous has earned national and international notoriety, and visitors from throughout the world descend on Anchorage every February.
Fur Rendezvous remains a highly anticipated time of year.

This is the first year we've been and participated. We LOVED it! We did and saw many things.


The World Championship Sled Dog Race debuted in 1946 and has become the cornerstone event of the Festival bringing teams of sled dogs and mushers to Anchorage from across Alaska and all over the world. The World Championship Dog Weight Pull began in 1967 as a bet between two dog owners to see whose animal could pull the most weight. Four decades later, dog owners are still competing against each other for the cash, notoriety and the illustrious World Champion title for the event.

To kick off the beginning of the Iditarod, the mushers and dogs race around Anchorage. The race really starts in Willow, AK. What is the Iditarod? It is an annual 975 mile sled dog race run in early March from Willow to Nome. Mushers and a team of 12-16 dogs, of which at least 6 must be on the towline at the finish line, cover the distance in 9–15 days. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams but evolved into today's highly competitive race. The current fastest winning time record was set in 2011 by John Baker with a time of 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds.
We saw about 5-6 sled dog teams.
Everyone cheered as they came by.
They have a big carnival. Let me clarify, it's big for AK. It's not the OC Fair or anything.
We did not go on the rides. It was snowy and windy. Doesn't seem fun to twirl around on a ride when it's already freezing out.
There are still many Fur Rendezvous events that have withstood the test of time and continue to maintain their unique character. The Official Rondy Fur Auction has been a staple of the Festival since the beginning and the Festival was named in large part to the economic importance of the Alaskan fur trade. Given that the fur trade was Alaska's third most valuable industry in those days, incorporating the industry into the celebration was a logical idea.

Umm, no thank you. I think this was a fox, with legs and tail still in tact.
At least they're warm. We saw another guy with a fox head as a hat.
True Alaskans, or maybe just wanna-be-s. My snow pants, jacket, and boots keep me plenty warm. It looks pretty cool though.

The Blanket Toss, an ancient Native Alaskan tradition, joined the Festival in 1950. Native Alaskans were flown into Anchorage from Nome and the Little Diomede Islands to participate in the Blanket Toss and to showcase their captivating tribal dances.
The "blanket" is made from walrus and breaded seal, at least that's what the guy told me. If you're native Alaskan you can kill any animal. They do use everything for something, like this.
So fun. I wish I could've done it too. I'm glad the girls got a chance.

In case you can't tell, the girls both loved it.

This year was the 5th Annual Rondy Running of the Reindeer! This internationally acclaimed event is a fundraiser for Toys for Tots and is a great way to help Alaskans! We ran 4 blocks in the middle of the street and 8 reindeer chased and passed us.
This was a highlight. I went with my friend, Kirsten. We were in the women's heat. We stayed toward the back of the group to try and get better pictures w/ the reindeers running behind us. The crowd watching was CRAZY. Thousands of people lined the streets. People on second story bldgs taking pictures and waving, people yelling, all sorts of participants dressed up. It was such a fun environment to be part of. I've never been to mardi gras, but that's how I would've pictured it--minus the snow and cold. It was difficult for Jeff to take pictures or video because not only did he have 3 busy little ones to keep an eye on, but the mass of humanity was nothing we've ever seen.
You can't see me, but it's just a picture to see the tons of people. This just shows a glimpse of it. We didn't even get a picture of us w/ reindeers behind us, but trust me there were. There was one reindeer slacking behind and came right past us.
After the race. We went with a St. Patrick's day theme-clover socks, green shirts, necklaces, and leprechaun silly hats.
This is also a huge activity/competition they have. It stays up for a long time. The kids enjoyed playing around all the sculptures that were made.
Sydney behind a see-through sculpture.
Kids and their friend, Ila in a ice car.
Me and Levi on part of a train. He's all about trains and planes right now.
All of us in front of the train car.

As if our day wasn't busy enough we fit in a hockey game. We love going to these games. Our friend hooked us up with tickets.
When Jordyn saw the mascot, the sea wolf, she said, "I'm gonna give the monster a hug."
Between the periods the girls were thrown a Sea Wolf T-shirt and each got a water bottle and puck. I love having kids, they get all the cool stuff. If Jeff and I had been to the game alone, they wouldn't have thrown us that stuff.
Love these guys! Yummy. One's hot the other is cute.


Anonymous said...

What incredible fun! Nothing like a day of pure adrenaline!! It's days like that you want to freeze frame so you don't forget a moment! I doubt the kids will ever forget all they saw and experienced. What did they think of you running with the reindeer?

Alice said...

So fun that you're really getting into Alaska!