Alaska’s big Fur Rendezvous, known as “Fur Rondy”, is a 2 week winter event and carnival in Anchorage in February every year. It’s one of the most unique festivals I have ever seen.
They host a fur trappers auction, so all the fur trappers bring all their furs, including bear furs and moose antlers and they sell them at this auction. People come from around the world, many from the Orient, just to buy these items. The fur trappers actually wear the fox wolf hats! They look the part, but it’s not a costume, it’s just what they wear.
There’s a Miners & Trappers Ball, where many guests dress like a miner, or another popular costume is to wear a duck tape dress. They raise money for charity and there’s lots of fun and revelry.
They also have these crazy outhouse races, where teams put an outhouse on a wheels or skis, with unique decorations, in order to race each other. I’ve often seen them break down or toilet paper trailing right in the middle of a race.
There really is such a thing as reindeer games – where reindeer chase after you, and you’re racing to outrun them! Similar to Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, individuals and groups compete with the reindeer for the grand prize. Whenever I’ve seen this, it’s been on snow so people slip and fall and It’s pretty funny. Nobody gets hurt, so it’s just plain entertaining.
Fur Rondy is also the kickoff to the Iditarod – the Worlds most revered dog mushing race. To kick it off is the Mushers Banquet – a dinner where you meet the mushers, get your poster signed, have a fabulous dinner and watch as the Musher’s pull their starting numbers. There’s a ceremonial start at the festival on Saturday, and then on Sunday, the race will move to wherever they can find deeper snow, elsewhere in Alaska, and the 1,000 mile race is on to Nome!
And there’s more! Including a snowshoe softball tournament, snow sculpture competition, blanket toss with tribal dancing, and a grand parade. There’s really nothing like the Fur Rondy anywhere in the world.