Fairbanks celebrates diversity with International Friendship Day
Mother-of-the-bride dress c/o JJ's House worn as dance dress, statement necklace c/o Hapiness Boutique, and own Very Fine Dance Shoes
Polynesian outfit
Polynesian dancer with flower necklace and head band

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.

woman in colorful dresses with hat
Dancers in colorful dresses with flower embellished hats

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.

Russian gypsy clothes
Russian gypsy dance performed by friends in dance

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.

mature woman in dress with sequin head gear
Back view of me waiting for our Argentine Tango in dress c/o JJ’s House with own sequin head gear, fishnets, and Very Fine Dance Shoes

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.

Japanese traditional outfits
Japanese traditional kimonos with floral print and sashes
midlife women in flamenco dresses
Flamenco lace dress with Russian scarf (left) and Flamenco dancers in various types of flamenco attire
young women in sari
Sisters in Indian saris front view (left) and back view (right)
mature women in Indian clothing
Women in colorful sari and an Indian dress
Women in Thai festive outfits
Women in Thai festive outfits
midlife woman looking posh chic in dirndl
Tyrolean (north Italy) dirndl with coin bracelet, coin apron chain called charivari, lace knee socks, Mary-Jane shoes (all own)
midlife woman in Persian outfit
Woman in Iranian (Persian) outfit
mature woman in Chinese dress
Chinese silk dress with floral embroidery

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.

You may also enjoy reading about other Fairbanks community events like the Culinary Arts Scholarship Fundraiser or Potato Festival.

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Photos: G. Kramm

Copyright 2013-2017 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved