Snapshots of Fur Rondy and the Iditarod in Anchorage

Iditarod sled dogs.
Reindeer in parade

Reindeer in the Fur Rondy Parade.

Alaskans are an odd group of people, and I mean that in a good way. I have always had quirky friends and that might explain why I’ve (more or less) been living in Alaska the last 10 years. One of my favorite and quirkiest events each year is the 10-day Fur Rondy Festival that culminates with the start of the Iditarod in Anchorage. Fur Rondy, short for Fur Rendevous, started in 1935 as a festival at the start of spring when trappers returned to town with a winter’s worth of pelts. Today, there are myriad events, from ice carving to outhouse races to running of the reindeer a la Pamplona. Snow is trucked in and laid down in the streets of Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod and people brave subfreezing temps to ride carnival rides and eat funnel cakes. After four long months of cold dark winter, people are eager to get out and socialize. This year, due to warm temperatures and no snow, the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship Sled Dog Races were canceled and the Iditarod start moved to Fairbanks, 360 miles north. It was 45 degrees the day of the Iditarod ceremonial start in Anchorage. (Cut to a video of Senator Jim Inhofe throwing a snowball on the Senate floor declaring there is no such thing as global warming.) Although I missed two of the most photogenic and ridiculous events (the outhouse races and running of the reindeer), I did get some snapshots of the parades, Iditarod, fireworks, and the carnival.

Fur Rondy and Iditarod 2015 Photos

(click on any photo to open a slideshow view)

What quirky festivals do you have in your area? 

To see more of my Alaska photos, click the picture below.

34 Comments on “Snapshots of Fur Rondy and the Iditarod in Anchorage

  1. I know all about that northern weirdness 🙂
    I lived in Atlin/Yukon for nearly 10 years. Made it to Skagway a few times, but never to Anchorage. Watched the start of the Yukon Quest a time or two. It’s an amazing lifestyle way up north.

  2. Where I live now, we don’t really have too many “weird” festivals. But on National Day, buildings are covered in lights, and cars are covered in those paste-on films that look like paint or photos of people. When I lived in Aspen, CO back in the good old daze, Halloween was truly one night you did not want to wander the streets alone. Got crazy. Love the long exposures.

    • I can see a Colorado mountain town being crazy on Halloween, but not wander the streets alone? I feel like there is more to this. Were there specific pranks that happened or crime committed by mountain town hippies?

      Also, where are you now? This National Day sounds interesting.

      • Yeah, Aspen was not “dangerous” per se. Just too many…erm…temptations available and free and flowing, like say for instance, that huge canister of nitrous oxide being administered by a “nurse.” I’m presently based in Abu Dhabi, where National Day is so very cool.

    • Thanks Ron. I checked out the link to your other post and I plan to submit something to them when I get a chance. That hike to El Mirador looks really brutal, especially when others helicopter in. I’ll check this one out.

  3. Really nice event! – Great shots using the long exposure.
    There are some festivals in the Netherlands but not “weird” 😀 In February – when usually cold or windy or rainy, there is a Carnival (Mardi Gras) for three days in Maastricht. I have never been there but I have heard it is a fun festival and the visitors can dressed up to join the festival.
    In Rotterdam we have a summer street party that looks more as Caribbean/Rio party but smaller version. It was a fun event and usually very crowded. There is quite number of residents in Rotterdam who originally from that region. I do appreciate this type of festival, it shows the multicultural of a city.

      • 😀 this is difficult to judge which one is better because I think Indonesia offers more interesting annual festivals like Jailolo Festival; Baliem Valley Festival; and Bali’s Ogoh-Ogoh Festival – but sadly I have never visited these festivals myself 😦 Hopefully someday or perhaps you may visit them earlier than me 🙂
        I have seen the first Chinese New Year street parade in Jakarta’s Kota Tua and it was very nice (previously Chinese-Indonesians like my mother and her family did not have freedom to celebrate it in public). Maybe now it is even bigger event than it was 🙂

      • hahahaha…the Dutch ones of course! I have heard from a friend who has been to the festival in Maastricht, it was quite overwhelming! BTW, do you receive my e-mail that I sent to your yahoo account?

      • I did get your email – sorry for the late response. Thank you so much for the nomination! I’ll have to look through my photos and see what I have.

  4. Cock (rooster) fighting festival in truc Bach, hanoi – potentially rather cruel… But the authorities seem to turn a blind eye as long as the gambling whic of course goes with it is kept covert

  5. Looks like a lot of fun. You don’t want to get me started on quirky festivals in india 🙂 Fantastic long exposure shots Jeff!

    • One of the highlights of our travels was Dusshera and Navratri. We saw them in Udaipur, Bundi and Jodhpur. My friend went to Durga Puga in Calcutta. It was his 4th trip to India and he said it was insane.

      I’d love to revisit India and just travel around by train and go to festivals and drink chai all the time. That would be amazing.

  6. Looks like a fun and interesting time.
    We have the July 4th Boat Festival in the Inlet. Lots of girls in bikinis which I sorta noticed.

    • Wow, that sounds like a very difficult festival to attend. I am sure you do it just to be part of the community and not because you enjoy it. Thanks for your efforts.

  7. Jeff this looks like tons of fun and I want to come for the outhouse races! Your photo of the dogs running is astounding!

    • Next year I will make sure to see the outhouse races! It was actually raining this year (there is no such thing as global warming) so I didn’t want to go photograph it. Have you been to Alaska before?

      • No I haven’t Jeff. From all of your photos and stories it looks like an extraordinary place.

  8. I would love to do dog sledding once even though this would be a tall order. Great picture of the dogs tho, I love their expression.

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