Alaska holds largest winter festival in N. America
By Lee Hyo-sik
Thousands of visitors from North America and around the world will flock to Anchorage, Alaska, to be part of the largest winter festival on the continent, the “Fur Rendezvous Festival,” on Feb. 25 to March 6.
During the festival, known to locals as “Fur Rondy,” the streets of downtown Anchorage become a winter spectacle for all to enjoy. There are a number of activities and events such as ice sculpture exhibitions, sled dog weight pulling, Eskimo blanket toss, snowshoe softball, carnival rides and the world championship sled dog race.
Participants can play softball wearing snowshoes, bowl on an ice-covered river and be chased by reindeers if they choose to. Additionally, Anchorage’s only winter festivity provides an opportunity for trappers and buyers to meet every year and create a frenzy among pin collectors.
Fur Rondy Pins are extremely popular with pin collectors, and many of them are listed on, E-Bay on any given day, with some pins listed at over $1000.
Since beginning in 1935, the festival has become Alaska’s premier winter celebration and added a variety of activities and events every year.
Today, visitors can watch the world championship sled dog race or ride in a dogsled themselves, take part in a fur auction or cross country ski in the torchlight ski parade.
The nightlife is equally as varied, from the formal Fur Rondy Masque Ball to the Jim Beam Jam and everything in between. “In the early days, the main focus of the carnival was to bring people together, to show community support and celebrate the beginning of the end of winter. Revelers purchased a $2 ticket that gained them admission to all of the activities.
Because fur trading was the second leading industry in Alaska at the time, fur trading was an important part of the festival,” an official at the Alaska Travel Industry Association said.
He said it has since evolved into a recreation-oriented festival in line with the declining fur industry, to attract as many visitors as possible from outside Anchorage. “It has become the largest winter celebration in North America, bringing tens of thousands of visitors into the town, thanks to a range of fun-based activities and events.”
Anchorage has more than 8,000 hotel and motel rooms, and more than 850 hostel beds. There are over 600 restaurants and other types of eateries.
For more information about the Fur Rendezvous Festival, log onto www.furrondy.net