Fur Rondy


PH: Anchorage, Alaska has this huge festival in late-February to early March called Fur Rondy. It’s a big winter festival with outhouse races, which are like buildings of massive outhouses and then they make a toilet seat and someone has to sit in it and then the team needs to carry them across snow. When I worked in Alaska, the dispensary I worked for won the award for the most realistic outhouse. There are also other attractions, like massive snow sculptures and a race where people wear costumes and start running down a field then after a little while they release reindeer to run through the crowd. There is also a tradition every year where they sell yearly “Fur Rondy” pins and if you go downtown to the parade without wearing a pin (from any year) you are sent to “jail”, a little cage they carry along in the parade. 


This is an Anchorage staple, it happens every year since before the state gained statehood in the United States. PH lived in Alaska for 18 years, and participated in Fur Rondy every year. If you go to Alaska during this time it’s like the event of the year. 


While seemingly random and wild, Fur Rondy represents ritualistic traditions that are truly by and for the common people. It is proof that anything can be considered a festival or celebration with significance, though an outhouse race isn’t what most people may think of when they imagine a celebration. Fur Rondy is a unique example of a known individual, Vern Johnson, purposely starting a festival to foster a sense of community. The original event was founded in 1936, and was a 3-day sports tournament. Today, the festival is 12 days long, and since the 1950s has included Alaskan Native celebrations and tribal dances, for which the participants need to be flown into Anchorage from other parts of the massive state.