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When Life Gives You Ice: Start A Sled Dog Derby Festival & Ice Carnival

On display at Fairbanks Community Museum.
Fairbanks Dog Derby & Ice Carnival Poster From 1935 at the Fairbanks Community Museum.

Alaska's Long Winters Lead To Yearly Ice Carnivals, Dog Races, River Break-Up Betting Pools, Fur Carnivals, and Reindeer Runs

There's no denying it. Winter is tough in Alaska. All that darkness and 50 below zero temperatures. It can take a toll on you, and make you wonder if summer will ever come again.

What people don't realize is that March -- when the snow still blankets the earth -- is still "winter," but a part of winter that is unbelievably wonderful.

The darkness has gone by March, and days are long and sunny. Although there's snow, in places like Fairbanks the snow is hardpacked and easy to travel over.

$11,000 Cash Prizes.
$15,000 Prize North American Championship
4th Annual Event in Fairbanks.
Early Fairbanks 1937 Ice Carnival Poster.
In the old days, trappers and miners used to come to town with their furs in March. They'd whoop it up, socializing and spending their money. It's a great idea. All over Alaska, even today, there are spring festivals. For example, in Nenana, there's an Ice Classic. It's a lottery, where you bet when the ice on the Tanana River will go out. In Anchorage, there's the Fur Rendezvous (or Fur Rondy). In Willow, you can watch the start of the huge Iditarod Sled Dog Race. All of these events, and many more, got their start as spring festivals.

There are also festivals in Fairbanks, even today. Fairbanks people put up huge ice carvings all over town in the winter -- something like the ice carvings you'd see on a table in a restaurant at a catered wedding in the Lower 48. But larger, and more ambitious.

These are Fairbanks Dog Derby and Ice Carnival posters, for longstanding Fairbanks events that go back at least to the 1930's. They're at the Fairbanks Community Museum, on display.

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