More than 15 zany events and 100 other activities are found at Alaska’s largest and oldest winter festival, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, which is slated for Feb. 21-March 2, 2014. Known locally as Fur Rondy, 2014 marks the 79th year.
The event started in 1935 as a three-day sporting event timed to coincide with the return of miners and trappers loaded down with the fruits of a winter of work. The original event featured skiing, hockey, basketball, boxing and a children's sled dog race down Fourth Avenue.
Sports are still a big part of Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, but sprinting before reindeer or steering the fastest outhouse on skis put Rondy in a league of its own for competitive spirit. Fan favorites like the Outhouse Races and Running of the Reindeer, a mad dash down the streets of Anchorage with caribou at the racers’ heels, always draws a crowd. In the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races, dog teams and their mushers complete three high-speed, all-out 25-mile loops over three days with the fastest elapsed time the winner. The competition, which began in 1946, is considered the grandfather of all Alaska races! One of the newest events is Yukigassen, a team snowball fight tournament that joined the lineup in 2011.
Despite a multitude of modern diversions, many traditional Fur Rendezvous events have withstood the test of time – several of which showcase Alaska's rich and varied Native cultures.
Fur Rondy's Blanket Toss mimics an ancient Alaska Native whaling tradition in two ways; a walrus skin is used, and everyone can have a turn to either jump or grip the blanket's edge while tossing others as high as 20 feet into the air. What a view!
Arts and crafts are a significant part of Alaska Native culture, and Rondy incorporates displays of intricately crafted works, from beautifully decorated showpieces to art that evokes traditional ways of life. Find creations from all over the state at The Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market.
Tribal regalia, customs and culture vary greatly between Alaska's distinct Native cultures. The Multi-tribal Gathering celebrates their diversity, joining cultural performers and visual artists in a one-day extravaganza for the whole family.