I had not heard of The Fur Rendezvous Winter Festival in Anchorage, Alaska until just a few months ago, even though it’s been an annual occurrence since 1935.
Or as the locals call it, “Rondy.”
The 84-year-old celebration started as a three-day sporting event timed to coincide with the return of miners and trappers loaded down with the fruits of a winter of work. In 1938, trappers and fur farmers were urged to bring furs during Rendezvous week to auction off to local and stateside buyers, beginning the tradition of having fur auctions.
Anchorage Fur Rendezvous fills 10 days with nearly 50 unique Alaskan events. Snowshoe softball, outhouse races, an Alaska Native arts market, a blanket toss and snow sculpture competitions, and The Iditarod are just a few of the ways Anchorage unwinds as winter ends.
The South Central Chapter of the Alaska Trappers Association offers the finest in Alaska Fur, continuing its legacy as one of the original events of Rondy. The Fur Auction has been a staple since the beginning, as the festival was named in honor of the economic importance of the Alaska fur trade. The fur trade was Alaska’s third most valuable industry in those days, so incorporating the industry into the celebration was a logical idea.
Fur Rondy’s Blanket Toss mimics an ancient Alaska Native whaling tradition in two ways; a walrus skin is used, and everyone can have a turn to either jump or grip the blanket’s edge while tossing others as high as 20 feet into the air.
Only in Anchorage can you meet a moose, walk on a glacier and explore a vast, natural park all in a single day. Between mountains and an inlet, surrounded by national parks and filled with Alaska wildlife, Anchorage combines the best of Alaska in a city that has the comforts of home and the hospitality of the Last Frontier.
Fur Rondy sounds like the perfect time to go. Who’s with me?