Alaskans’ artistic talents shine throughout the festival
It’s Rondy time! If Anchorage Fur Rendezvous conjures images of racing with reindeer, softball on snowshoes, outhouse races and team snowball fights, then you’re on the right track, but that’s only part of the fun. There are dozens of artistic events on the schedule, and it’s easy to fit them in between the headline events. Get a better understanding of Alaska Native cultures, dive into art or catch a play so bad it’s good.
Two of the best opportunities to experience Alaska Native culture bookend Rondy. The multitribal gathering takes place Feb. 23 in the Egan Center, during the first weekend of Rondy. It is a whole day of dance, song and storytelling. The Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market rounds out the final days of the festival from Feb. 27 to March 3 in the Dimond Center. If you’ve never been to the arts market, prepare to be amazed. Artisans from all over Alaska fill the halls of the mall, and each table is piled high with one-of-a-kind works of wood, stone, leather and any medium you can imagine. Meet the artists all under one roof; you could spend hours browsing.
There’s only one play where popcorn-flinging patrons are a sign that the production is a smash hit. Alaska Sound Celebration puts on “The Rondy Melodrama” each year, and it’s a show that is big on scenery-chewing acting and audience participation. Cheer the good guy! Boo the villain! Belt out the chorus! These folks know how to perform. When ASC isn’t putting on the melodrama, they perform as an a cappella chorus.
Check out the work of aspiring Ansel Adamses across Alaska at The Sears Mall in Midtown. The amateur photo contest is on display for the whole two-week run of Rondy, so it’s easy to find a time to check out this juried photography exhibit. The contest is split into adult and kids divisions, and categories range from portrait to wildlife to scenic.
Not all the art at Rondy is on the wall or up on stage. Down near Ship Creek, the snow sculptures are as artful as they are colossal. Go early and you can watch crafty carvers transform 24 cubic feet of snow into fantastic shapes. There are teen and elementary-school teams in the competition, and the winners in the top division will represent Alaska in the snow sculpture U.S. nationals.
Yep, Fur Rondy’s come a long way in 77 years. What started out as a few fun games to help locals unwind has blossomed into a two-week extravaganza. There’s no reason to miss a second of it, so get out there and enjoy.
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