Get Away With Fran

February 26, 2010

Dog gone fun in Anchorage

Filed under: U.S. — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 7:42 pm


“Bark, bark. Bark bark bark.” You could hear the dogs from blocks away, an odd sound in a city of nearly 300,000. But then again this is Anchorage, and it’s nearly March, and that means time for the dogs to come out to play – especially if they are sled dogs.

For the 75th year, Anchorage is putting on Fur Rendezvous, also known affectionately as Fur Rondy, a nine-day festival, including races with dogs and mushers, which kicked off today.


Fur Rondy was originally envisioned back in 1935 as a way to add a little spice in a city of about 3,000 people, in a place where winters are long. Dog races were part of the entertainment.

To imagine the races today you have to imagine that despite a couple of 20-story skyscrapers and offerings like a Nordstrom’s and Starbucks, Anchorage still manages to feel a lot like a small, one-horse town – it’s just that there many “horses” on several downtown streets.

Some of those streets were purposely left unplowed in a snowfall yesterday (though not as much snow as in New York) and are being given over for the next few days to the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races, a precursor of sorts for the Iditarod, with 30 teams competing for an $80,000 purse.


The World Championship is 25 miles as opposed to the Iditarod’s 1,200, meaning standing on 4th Street, the starting point, for a couple of hours, you get to see the teams depart and return (in the case of the Iditarod, which begins March 7, the teams head out of Anchorage to Nome).

Competitors in this year’s World Championship races include Iditarod champion Jeff King, who waved to an enthuisastic viewing crowd lining 4th Street as the dogs pulled him quickly past to large applause.

A commentator counted down the start and finish times from a viewing tower and over speakers. The teams started on a staggered basis. The winner will be determined after more rounds tomorrow and Sunday.


Other Fur Rondy events include an outdoor carnival with rides – despite temps in the 20s – outhouse races, snowshoe softball, fireworks, beer drinking championships, blanket tosses and more, inside and outside.

It’s not just about surving winter here. It’s about having fun doing it.

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