Outdoor festivals beckon us to enjoy the sun
July is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy Anchorage. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy, hike-climb-bike type, much of the action this month takes place under the long, lazy hang time of Alaska’s midnight sun. After all, you get just as much
vitamin D sunning yourself in a beer garden as you would through some more strenuous endeavors.
Get a jump on Fourth of July; fireworks kick things off as early as July 3 and festivities spill into the weekend. Eagle River gets things started with late-night fireworks on July 3, which are part of a community-wide Independence Day celebration sponsored by the Eagle River Lions Club. The next night, Anchorage’s fireworks follow the Alaska Baseball League double header between the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and the Anchorage Bucs on July 4. With food, entertainment and games in the park and 19 hours of daylight, the sun won’t go down until just before the fireworks go up. A pair of parades paints Alaska red, white and blue on the big day: Anchorage’s Delaney Park Strip is host to the annual Anchorage celebration; rise and shine and hit the pancake breakfast. Then head from pancakes to procession. Eagle River’s fun doesn’t end July 3; the town has a red-white-and-blue procession all their own on the Fourth of July.
Fun in the Forest
Girdwood’s annual Forest Fair puts the “indie” spin on Independence Day. With hand-crafted items for sale, exotic foods and homegrown Alaska entertainers, events don’t get more local than this one. The annual Forest Fair Parade winds its way through the valley at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 5, but the whole event takes off from July 4-6. For those of age, the beer garden is a wonderful place to meet friends or make new ones.
Bear of a good time
It’s not all about the Fourth of July weekend this month either. Make some time for another big summer event in Eagle River, the annual Bear Paw Festival. Join the town firehouse, local businesses and community groups for a parade through the heart of the town on Eagle River’s broad boulevards. The best salmon recipes go head-to-head at the cook-off, racers can compete in a 5-kilometer run or rubber duck race and teams display fishy agility at the Slippery Salmon Olympics. This year’s festival takes over Eagle River July 9-14.
Alaska’s largest airshow touches down near the city this month as well. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson opens its gates on July 26-27 for the Arctic Thunder Air Show, held every other year. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds headline a slate of military and civilian aircraft demonstrations that will fill the sky with impressive displays of aerial acrobatics and military might.