Since more than 30 years, Fairbanks celebrates the diversity of the community with International Friendship Day at the Centennial Center in Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is a cultural park displaying houses from the Gold Rush time, a bush plane museum, a river steam boat from the old pioneer times, and a museum. Pioneer Park is a must-visit for every Fairbanks visitor and the place to celebrate Independence Day every year. The Centennial Center was built in honor of the gold strike in Fox near Fairbanks. This building serves for all kind of community events, and traditionally houses the International Friendship Day.
Various groups in town present music, dances or marshal arts from various countries. It’s amazing how many variations of belly dancing exist or the variety of instruments that look quite different from those you see at the symphony. Steal drums made from old barrels, wood drums with animal hides, string instruments with a body from a pumpkin type fruit. Castanets that click so loud that you still hear them on the opposite site of the Center.
The Russian gypsy dancers move smoothly over the stage twirling their wide colorful skirts in the air like playing with an oversize van. The Polynesian dancer swings her hips to the music in a way you wonder whether she has a spin. The below the knees ruffled skirts of the flamenco dancers’ body conscious dresses move up and expose their long lean legs when they rotate fast to the music.
Of course, like every year, there were traditional (ethnic) items from the various countries on display. Some of these items were even for sale! Russian Dolls or malachite earrings anyone? Culinary arts of several cultures were available for purchase as well. German stollen, poppy-seed filled cake, short cake (be aware it’s not a cake), European cookies (they have only a third or so of sugar of American cookies), or German raisin cake anyone? I overheard an American girl saying that this raisin bread is good. It tells you how sweet our American bread is and how cautious the Europeans are with sugar in cakes or bread. The aroma of all these goodies made the entire center smell like a mix of spices, like a supersized deli with food from all over the world. Well there were also hints of mothballs, cedar oil, and lavender.
For the fashionistas and fashionister among my readers, the highlight of the show is probably the International Clothing Pageant. All the clothes presented are from closets in the community, which explains the hints of mothballs, cedar oil, and lavender. While some of the outfits repeat once every so many years, the Indian saris and other Indian clothes are brand-new each year. No hard-core, real Indian fashionista would ever wear the same outfit twice at International Friendship Day or a Diwali celebration. I once dared to wear my black silk embroidered with sequins sari twice at Diwali and I was told by every one of them that’s a no-no. When the third of my friends took me aside I already knew what she would tell me. 😉
Since I modeled myself in the International Clothing Pageant, I asked my friends to pose backstage. Enjoy the photos of these traditional outfits.
Which one is your favorite? Which one would you like to try out yourself? Let me know by email, I’m curious.
Focus Alaska is a weekly series here on High Latitude Style featuring Alaska curiosa, lifestyle, wildlife, street style, weather, and insider travel tips.
Get the inspiration, support, motivation, and tips to look to your best in life. Subscribe to High Latitude Style. Deep inside you know when I can do it you can do it too.
Photos: G. Kramm
Copyright 2013-2017 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved