Fairbanks is not that large of a town, but the locals are very involved in making their community tourist-friendly. A flood control project was completed not that long ago and the Chena River now flows peacefully through the downtown area. The statue to the left is part of a huge plaza that celebrates cultures of both the Alaskan Natives and Indian Nations that were the early settlers of the area. Walking and bike paths welcome folks along both sides of the river.
Observation area and footbridge. Fun bike racks along river path. How about Fairbanks by Segways?
The local visitor’s center along the plaza features an area where competitive mushers can introduce their racing dogs to the tourists. Jody, a finisher of both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest in her rookie year, was showing her dogs the day we stopped by. These dogs are bred for racing, and are NOT Alaskan Huskies. The dogs loved the attention, especially from kids.
The biggest crowd we saw on our walk-around day was at the local Fudge Pot store! (No, we didn’t stop)
Midnight Sun Festival
We were in Fairbanks during the summer solstice Midnight Sun Festival and on Sunday these local streets near the plaza were filled with street vendors, food booths, and plenty of activities for the kids of all ages.
The gang stopped to watch remote-controlled NASCAR racers. This Army band had the crowd rockin’ with heavy-metal tunes, and local vendors filled the plaza area.Food menus were interesting if you like reindeer meat. Bouncing booths were also popular. Check out the broncing salmon.
Midnight Sun Fun Run
Saturday night the town kicked off the summer solstice with a 5K run that started at the University and finished near where we were camped at Pioneer Park. The race began at 10 pm and officially ended at 12:11 a.m. with more than 3500 “competitors”, using the term loosely for those in costumes or pushing strollers and walkers.
I’ve commented in previous blogs about the length of daylight we have come to expect while traveling in the Yukon and Alaska. One of the highlights of the festival is a Midnight Baseball Game played without lights. There was also a Midnight Golf Tournament.
Officially, the almanac for June 21, 2011 in Fairbanks read:
|Actual Time||2:59 AM AKDT||12:47 AM AKDT|
|Civil Twilight||Sun does not rise||Sun does not rise|
|Nautical Twilight||Sun does not rise||Sun does not rise|
|Astronomical Twilight||Sun does not rise||Sun does not rise|
|Moon||12:58 AM AKDT (6/21)||12:18 PM AKDT (6/21)|
|Length Of Visible Light||24h 00m|
|Length of Day||21h 48m|
Alaskan Salmon Bake
We spent our time in Fairbanks parked in the Pioneer Park RV parking area near the “Alaskan Salmon Bake” entrance. For 25 years the “Salmon Bake” folks have put on nightly dinners featuring all-you-can-eat grilled salmon, prime rib, salads, desserts, etc. This company has their own fleet of 10+ buses that go out to local hotels and campgrounds to bring in the tourists. Commercial tour buses also drop off a ton of folks every night – rain or shine.
On Friday and Saturday night they add King Crab Legs to the menu so we used our discount tickets to stuff ourselves one night.
Before and After Dinner SceneWildlife Report:
We didn’t see much animal wildlife while in downtown Fairbanks, but we did see a couple of unusual scenes during our local touring:
A street of “sod-roofed” houses. (Sod makes for good insulation.)
This plane (a DC-4??) was in a local front yard and had a boarding staircase nearby.
NEXT: Denali National Park