This year was our first year being able to celebrate Fur Rondy (or Fur Rondevouz, it’s actual name). When we came up to decide if Alaska was for us in 2013, we missed Fur Rondy celebrations by a day, so I was so excited to see what all the hype was about in 2014.
It. Is. Awesome.
Fur Rondy is the largest winter festival in North America: it’s a 10 day event celebrating the coming of spring and the kick-off of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It’s such a cool event that National Geographic Traveler selected it as the number one winter carnival in the world in 2012.
There are several events happening throughout the whole experience, there was no possible way to attend them all! We dedicated our past two Saturday’s to Fur Rondy though to try to take in the experience.
The ones I attended were:
- Fur Auction (22 Feb)
We saw a lot of cool pelts go up for sale, but nothing we were interested in buying. The best part of the fur auction was the outfits people were wearing. Fur Rondy is a chance for everyone to show off their furs, and there were some AWESOME outfits. It also helped that it was a really cold day, so the warmth was welcome.
- Blanket Toss (22 Feb)
The blanket toss is an ancient Alaska Native tradition, and it looks super fun. A bunch of people grab a blanket made out of animal pelts and toss you in the air! I got some great pictures of a little girl experiencing it! I did not participate, as we had to make our way to the Outhouse Races!
- Outhouse Races (22 Feb)
The outhouse races was something I was super excited about because I was one of the announcers! I did a lot of research on potty humor (with the help of some of our guy friends up here). It is a pretty crazy race, and the crowd was enormous!
Basically, teams build outhouses that are then put on skis. 4 people pushing and one person riding inside of the outhouse go down a block of 4th Avenue and back. Fastest team gets to progress to the next heat! There were 16 teams, and some amazing outhouses!
- World Champion Sled Dog Races (22 Feb)
Before the outhouse races, we were able to watch some of the Sled Dog Races downtown. I think it is just so cool that all of these events take place in the downtown streets of a big city (Anchorage is over 300,000 people!) It such such a neat thing watching dogs race down 4th Avenue.
- Trailgating for the Ceremonial Iditarod Start (1 Mar)
By far my favourite activity, trailgating. I thought moving to Alaska would mean the end of day drinking while cheering on a sport I know nothing about. I was clearly wrong.
Our friends set up at 10am at one of the parks in the city that was right along the race trail. The ceremonial start is a big trailgating day, because the official restart is the next day, so the first days activity doesn’t really count for anything. This is awesome, because the dog mushers are having a great time high-fiving fans, accepting beers from trailgaters, and everyone is in good, fun spirits.
Some people got dressed up in costumes to cheer on the dog teams, and also to go downtown and participate in the Reindeer Run: a short footrace where you run with reindeer a la Running of the Bulls.
Overall, Fur Rondy was an amazing experience. Living in Alaska has been filled with so many things I never imagined doing: viewing an outhouse race, cheering on a dog sled team in my neighborhood park, getting 6″ of snow and shrugging it off to go to work, and thinking “25 degrees! Warm day!” It was a little over a year ago that we decided Anchorage was the place we wanted to move to, and soon we will be approaching one year as residents in the most breathtakingly beautiful place I’ve ever been.
Every day up here feels like a mini-adventure and I feel so lucky to experience it and so grateful to have a life-partner willing to go along with my crazy dream of moving 4,360 driving miles from our friends and families. I am also so happy that I have this blog to share those experiences with whoever wants to read it. It makes me laugh when I get e-mails from my grandmother saying she doesn’t have to ask how I’m doing because she follows my blog (hey Grandma!), and when my mom tells me someone she ran into at the gas station commented on our blogged adventure.
So now the real question is: Who’s coming up for Fur Rondy 2015?