Season of festivals: Ocean, Solstice, Gay Pride…

When I first moved to Anchorage, I thought it was the party capital of the world, with different festivals and shindigs around every corner. Of course, I also moved here in June, possibly the month with the most festivals packed in it for all of Alaska. Most of the festivals seemed to have their biggest day circulating around June 21 in particular.
No, this is not all chance. For the select few who do not know, the summer solstice is June 21, a day where the sun seems to never set. As if in tribute to the wonderful sun that Alaskans see so little of, festivals relating to this or on topics that don’t have to do with the sun at all (but happen to be celebrated on the solstice) are set up all through the month of June.
The festival mania kicks off on Saturday, June 6 with the Alaska Ocean Festival. This one-day celebration pays homage to all things aquatic with an educational focus on the importance of healthy oceans for Alaska. Don’t let the idea of an educational experience turn you off, because several bands will be performing throughout the whole day and into the night on the DelaneyPark Strip. During the festival, listeners will be treated to the bands Full Sail, Sweating Honey, Rabbit Creek Ramblers, Last Train, and Pimps of Joytime over at the Moose’s Tooth stage.
Not only will there be music at this festival, but events like a five kilometer fun run, a shrimp peel-off, and film showings will be happening continuously through the day. Festival-goers will have numerous occasions to compete with friends in all sorts of events, including trying out a kayak demo pool.
Let’s assume that fish-themed fun is not your style. Perhaps sword fights and chivalry are more your speed. Well, June 6 also marks the start date of the Three Barons Renaissance Fair, a festival split up through two weekends in June. The festival is comprised of three baronies, the red, green, and blue. Each of them has their own show every year with a different and unique theme.
Besides the three main shows, the festival has peasant dancing, sword fights, spear throwing, carnival games, and many other activities. And if you miss the first weekend, the festival starts up again June 13 and 14. Also, there is a fun run in between the weekends on June 9. People can meet at the fairgrounds at 6:30 after registering at www.3barons.org. For those interested in attending the Renaissance Fair, it is located on the Tozier Dog Track on Tudor road in between Lake Otis and Bragaw.
The whole community of Anchorage is invited to participate in the 2009 Pridefest, a celebration of diversity among Alaska. This festival runs from June 13 to June 21 with an event listed for every day in between. The festival starts on June 13 for a memorial service for gay members of the community for those who have passed away at 11 a.m. in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetary. The next day, there is a kick-off barbeque at The Raven, which will have free admission.
On Wednesday, June 17, there will be movies with LGTB themes showing at Out North at 7 p.m. with free admission. The following night at the same time there will be Drag Queen Bingo at Snow City Café. On Friday there will be a Mr/Ms Gay Anchorage pageant. On Saturday, June 20, the Gay Pride Parade begins at 11 a.m. with the Pride on the Parkstrip Festival following after between I and L St. on the Delaney Park Strip.
Juneteenth will be celebrating a different kind of diversity, focusing on a historical day for African-Americans. There will be a three-day festival starting June 19 and ending June 21 on the Delaney Park Strip. There will be basketball tournaments, dozens of stage performances, and it is free of charge. UAA will also be hosting a Juneteenth celebration of it’s own on June 16. There will be live musical entertainment with an excellent selection of free food for students.
For those who have a taste for the greener things in life, the Alaska Botanical Garden is setting up shop on June 20 through June 21 with the Garden Fair and Art Show on Campbell Airstrip. This will feature an invitational garden and art show for everyone to view. There will be craft and plant vendors, demonstrations on plant life, and children’s entertainment available the entire time. Admission is $5.
Finally, The Abused Women’s Aid In Crisis (AWAIC) effort will be holding a summer solstice celebration on June 19 and 20 in the town square. Admission is free and entertainment will be constantly provided on two separate stages. Crafts vendors will be out and there will be shows for children to enjoy. A fundraiser will be held for the organization beforehand on May 30 in the form of exotic dance. The show, titled, “Ancient Myths and Legends,” will be in the Wendy Williamson auditorium at 7 p.m.
No matter what you find enjoyment in, June is guaranteed to have a festival or huge event that is just your style. This summer, make sure to set aside some time to get out and enjoy yourself in some sort of gathering.