In Alaska it’s about surviving winter—a long, long winter. Fortunately, people in Anchorage have not only a frontier spirit but a sense of humor. And so there is Fur Rendezvous, affectionately called the “Fur Rondy” by locals, now in its 75th year and serving up 10 days of crazy winter fun from Feb. 26 – Mar. 6. The festival leads up to the start of the more serious Iditarod dog sled race, which kicks off March 7 (and runs a 1,200-mile course to Nome).
Racing is part of the action during Fur Rondy too, in the form of the World Championship Sled Dog Races, with 30 mushers and their teams competing for an $80,000 purse, on a 25-mile course. But that’s about as competitive as Fur Rondy gets.
And yes, Amazing Journeys is headed there! With over 30 true adventure-seekers, we are headed to Alaska from February 26th through March 6th for a true winter experience. Festivals, dogsledding, snowmobiling, the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) and even a “reverse oasis” of sorts as we warm up at the incredbile Chena Hotsprings are all part of this awesome tour. Even in this frozen tundra, the volcanic activity actually creates an awesome collection of steaming mineral hotsprings right in the middle of the blustery Alaskan winter.
The festival events range from the sublime to the ridiculous, including whacky snowshoe softball (competitors fall a lot), a Frostbite Footrace (costumes optional) and the World’s Largest Outhouse Race (yup, teams competing pushing outhouses). Part of the experience will be to watch exhibitions of the Native American blanket toss, where people lifted into the air on a skin blanket–an ancient form of scouting an area for hunting. This event is actually held near the carnival—even though it will be sub zero at times, the festival includes a Ferris wheel and other outdoor rides.
Fur Rondy’s popular Reindeer Run is an Alaskan version of Pamplona, and draws crowds. Thousands will be out for the 6:45 p.m. night-time fireworks. Much of the action takes place on main downtown Anchorage streets, where there are a couple of 20-story skyscrapers and offerings like a Nordstrom’s and Starbucks. Some of those streets were purposely left unplowed in a half-foot snowfall, so, for instance, mushers could race through on their trek.
Try that in New York.