Other Alaskan Traditions

The Iditarod isn’t the only time honored tradition that’s taking part in Alaska right now….  the Fur Rondy is in full swing in Anchorage.  The Fur Rendezvous was started in 1935 and was a three day festival scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the miners and trappers who returned to town with their treasures.  The festival has grown and changed over the years, but the official fur auction has remained a staple.  The Blanket Toss, a traditional native Alaskan event, was added in 1950 and the World Champion Sled Dog Races were added in 1946. This race is a series of sprint races for dog teams.  Today some of the other favorite events are the carnival, parade, Outhouse Races, Snowshoe Softball, and the Running of the Reindeer.  I know that the teachers are checking out sections of the festival as they have free time.  It’s pretty amazing to ride the ferris wheel at night with the lights, cold weather, and snow!

Another tradition that is taking place now is the Nenana Ice Classic.  It might be fun to do a version of this with your kids at school.  Essentially, people are making predictions of when the Tanana River ice will break up at Nenana.  The tradition started in 1917 when some railroad engineers bet money guessing when the river ice would break up.  A large tripod is planted into the river.  There is a clock connected to it.  The clock stops as soon as the ice goes out.  The river usually freezes over during October and November each year.  The ice gets thicker and thicker during the winter and has an average thickness of 42 inches on April 1st.  The ice then starts to melt on the top due to weather and from the bottom due to moving water.

There is some really cool information published to help your kids make their predictions.  All of the past winning dates and times are recorded in the official pamphlet that is distributed all around the state.  If I were to make a prediction, I would take a look at what happened in 2003. Knowing that was the year they moved the Iditarod restart to Fairbanks, maybe that’s a good indicator for what will happen this year?  What prediction would your students make and why?

You can access the brochure here:  http://www.nenanaakiceclassic.com/brochures.htm