“Rondy, Rendezvous come on!” The familiar jingle can only mean one thing: ladies and gentlemen, it’s Rondy time.
The citywide Fur Rendezvous festival has been a staple celebration in Anchorage for the last 77 years. Highly anticipated by locals and annual pilgrims alike, Rondy is one of the largest tourist attractions that Anchorage annually presents. It is steeped in history and provides a rare display of uniquely Alaskan wares and activities.
The festival kicked off on Friday, February 24th with the amateur photo contest at the Mall at Sears and will continue on with well over 100 citywide activities through Sunday, March 4th. The festival will conclude with “Yukigassen” an ultimate outdoor snowball fight-game of Japanese origin (resembling a mesh of capture the flag and dodge-ball).
“I haven’t been [to the festivities] since I was a little girl, but I think I want to go watch the mattress races,” said sophomore Katie Hillstrand. “It sounds like they would be hilarious.”
“Fur Rendezvous” received its name from the large economic importance of the Alaskan fur trade in the 1930’s; trappers would ‘rendezvous’ to buy/sell/
trade pelts in late February. The first “Fur Rondy” took place in February 1935 in the form of a three-day sporty repose from the daily grind of roughing it Alaska style (coinciding with the annual arrival of the miners and trappers bringing their winter wares
to town). Owing to the timing of the event, incorporating the fur trade and auction as a main attraction was the natural choice.
Those first festivities consisted of skiing, hockey, basketball, boxing and a children’s dog sled race down Fourth Avenue (still a favorite of festival goers) and ended with a large bonfire and torchlight parade. Back in the early years, men were absolutely required to grow facial hair in order to be a part of the festivities and a law was passed to enact such facial musings; those lacking in impressive scruff were fined!
And though the event has altered over the years and many things have been modernized, Rondy continues to embody the essence of Alaska.
“I love Fur Rondy,” said student Melissa Parkhouse. “I watched some of the dog sled races today; they were great!”
Fur Rondy offers an extremely wide variety of entertainment opportunities. Overlapping with “First Fridays” on Friday, March 2nd, downtown is sure to be alive with music, art and enthusiastic Fur Rondy goers. From dog sled races to epic snow battles, carnival de l’Rondy and the 62nd annual Miner & Trappers charity ball; this year the ball will be held at the Egan center and themed “Going to the Dogs.” The Trappers’ ball is an opportunity to pull out your inner mountain man; complete with a fur auction and costume, beard and mustache contests (tickets can be purchased on the official Fur Rondy website).
And with the 2012 Iditarod beginning on March 3rd it is a happening time for Alaskans everywhere! Don’t miss out on the fun. A full list of Fur Rondy activities and an app, can be found and downloaded online at www.furrondy.net