The sunshine brings activities and festivals to many mining communities during the summer months, and we wanted to highlight a few to mark on your calendar. For an authentic Alaskan celebration, head to Fairbanks in the third week of July. That’s when residents cut loose in honor of their Gold Rush history, during a five-day festival they call Golden Days. Bank managers dress up as sourdough miners, and most of the city turns out for races, parades, and great food. It’s a great time to meet locals—who are in a festive, social mood—and to be swept up in a big Alaskan event.
This five-day festival began in 1952, when the Chamber of Commerce decided to honor Fairbanks’ Gold Rush and its proud mining tradition. Felix Pedro, a young Italian immigrant, started the rush in 1902 with a gold strike in the foothills outside town. He’s the man who famously proclaimed, “There’s gold in them there hills.” His cry was heard far and wide: Fairbanks grew from a sleepy river town to a bustling city almost overnight. Today, the town collectively celebrates this exciting time with Golden Days, declared one of the country’s top 100 events by Destination Magazine.
The festival includes costume contests, Alaska’s largest parade, foot races, a BBQ cook-off, and a rededication of the Felix Pedro monument, which was a gift to Fairbanks from the Italian government.
Most of the events are held in Pioneer Park, just along the Chena River. A community dinner kicks off the festival, and the first 500 people to show up get free hot dogs, chips, and soda. For the next five days, events run pretty much non-stop throughout downtown, at the park, and in other spots.
During the intermission of comedy night, you can watch contests for the hairiest chest, hairiest legs, best mustache, and even the ugliest “frontier feet.” Since Alaska is known for bushy residents, this contest contributes to a hilarious evening.
I think I’ll pass on that one, but good luck to the judges! Lone Tree loves to support communities with pride in Mining, Oil & Gas, and military heritages….especially those that truly create fun experiences for those hard workers in the industry.