Walking around Anchorage in February of each year, you’ll hear people saying that. What the heck does it mean?
Well, my dear Adventurous Traveler…the Fur Rendezvous Festival is a
significant part of the history and tradition of Anchorage! In the mid
1930’s, Anchorage was a tiny town of 3,000 that stretched between the
Park Strip and Ship Creek. Winters were long, hard and tough. Spirits
would dip after the holidays. Cabin fever would descend. People got
Enter Vern Johnson, the father of Fur Rendezvous. Vern was a
likeable, outgoing Anchorage citizen with a keen understanding of social
conditions. To help raise the spirits of Anchorage’s residents and to
put the “win” back into winter, he and his friends established a
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.
The entire town turned out to “Rondy.”
Over the years, Fur Rendezvous has continued to be something that
Anchorage residents look forward to. It’s also earned national and
international notoriety, drawing visitors from throughout the world.
There are many Fur Rondy events- some old, some new. The Official
Rondy Fur Auction has been a staple of the Festival since the beginning
and the Festival was named in large part because the fur trade was
Alaska’s third most valuable industry in those days. The Blanket Toss*,
an ancient Native Alaskan tradition, joined the Festival in 1950.
Alaskan Native hunters and dancers were flown into Anchorage from Nome
and Little Diomede to participate in the Blanket Toss and perform
artistic, captivating tribal dances.
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 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. Other traditional Fur Rondy events include
the Rondy Carnival, the Grand Parade, the uniquely Alaskan Original
Men’s Snowshoe Softball and the Grand Prix Auto Race, one of the oldest
street races in North America. The Frostbite Footrace, Miners and
Trappers Charity Ball and the Outhouse Races and many other events are
also not to be missed.
For a complete schedule of the events, which
last from 2/22-3/3/2013, go here, http://www.furrondy.net/images/stories/2013_events/2013-rondyofficialschedule-updated-02-15-13.pdf.
See you there. “Let’s Rondy!”
(Official Fur Rondy Website information was used in the writing of this article.)