Ever been chased by a reindeer? Ever played softball wearing snowshoes? How about bowling on an ice-covered river? Ever run through a metropolitan city in costume on snow-covered streets? The Fur Rendezvous, "Fur Rondy" to locals, is Anchorage's only winter festival, and provides an opportunity for trappers and buyers to meet every year. It is also the largest winter festival in North America.
During the Fur Rendezvous festival, the streets of downtown Anchorage will become a winter spectacle for all to enjoy. There are numerous activities and events such as Ice Sculpture displays, sled dog weight pulling, Eskimo Blanket Toss, Snowshoe Softball, carnival rides, Grand Prix, and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.
FurRondy has also created a frenzy among collectors.
If you're a pin collector, you definitely know what
we're talking about. Fur Rondy Pins are extremely
popular with collectors, and you can find many of
them listed on the popular auction web site, ebay, on
any given day. Some pins have been listed at over
$1000 on E-bay. You can also find pins from past festivals
at Fur Rondy every year.
Since its early days, Fur Rendezvous officials have worked to be "Alaska's Premier
Winter Festival," adding a variety of activities and
events annually. Today, visitors can watch the World
Championship Sled Dog Race or ride in a dogsled themselves,
take part in a fur auction, try the Eskimo Blanket
Toss or cross country ski in the Torchlight Ski Parade – the list is endless. Nightlife is equally as varied, from the formal Fur Rondy Masque Ball to the Jim Beam Jam and
everything in between.
The Fur Rendezvous began as a winter sports tournament (hockey and basketball).
Some history books state that Fur Rondy began in 1936, other sources place it
beginning as late as 1939.
The year in which the idea was conceived is now accepted as the beginning date of the festival: 1935. It was during that time that Vern Johnson, Clyde Conover, Thomas Bevers and Dale Bowen came up with the idea of a party that would encompass all of Anchorage.
The main focus of the carnival was to bring people together, to show community support and celebrate the beginning of the end of winter. In those days revelers purchased a $2 ticket that gained them admission to all of the activities. Because fur trading was the second leading industry in Alaska at the time, fur trading became an important part of the festival. It provided a golden opportunity for trappers and buyers to meet in Anchorage to ply their trade and cut out the middle-man. Trapping contests were held, and prizes were awarded for the longest fox, the best fox and the finest ermine pelts.
The Fur Rondy festival continued to grow and in 1956 Greater Anchorage, Inc. was formed to take over the management and operation of the festival. GAI is governed by a board of directors and has a full-time year round staff. Today Anchorage Fur Rendezvous is one of the largest winter festivals in North America with estimates of over 67% of the population participating in Rondy.
Anchorage is located in the Southcentral region
of Alaska, 358 miles south of Fairbanks, 40
miles north of Girdwood and 127 miles north of
Seward. It is a three-hour flight from
Anchorage is centrally located in Alaska with
more than 280 flights serviced daily by
domestic and international airlines. Anchorage
can be reached from anywhere in North America
via the Alaska Highway. The Glenn and Seward
highways lead into Anchorage and the Alaska
Railroad travels between Anchorage from
Fairbanks, Whitter and Seward.
Anchorage has more than 8,000 hotel/motel rooms
and more than 850 bed and breakfast/hostel
beds. There are more than 600