Pit-stop Fairbanks, Alaska
During times of the cold war, Fairbanks was a pit-stop for European flights to Japan or southeast Asia to fuel and exchange the crew. This fact even led to a meeting of Pope Johannes Paul II and President Ronald Reagan on a red carpet at the Fairbanks International Airport as they both traveled thru. You can still see that red carpet at the Howling Dog in Fox, Alaska.
Fairbanks became a destination
When things calmed down after the fall of the iron curtain, Fairbanks became a destination that people choose to travel to. Tweet about this.
Perceptions about Fairbanks
Why would people travel to Fairbanks, Alaska? A place many people associate with the Bush (yes, it is a location like the Alps or the Great Plains and has to be capitalized), the wild, subsidence lifestyle, ice box, frigid temperatures, seven months of snow, midnight sun, dark nights, and/or somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Fashionistas associate Fairbanks with fashion hell on Earth. Heels and fancy clothes seem to contradict with snow, icy sidewalks and 40 below. Tweet about this.
Most women hate living there not because of the few clothes shopping opportunities or the cold winters, but the short summers. Most soldiers’ wives get tears in their eyes when they hear the next assignment is Fairbanks, Alaska. This statement is especially true when the current post is in Florida, or Hawaii or on the maritime continent or Germany.
Why do people travel to Fairbanks?
However, there are also people who get tears of joy and excitement in their eyes when they hear Fairbanks, Alaska. Dog mushers directly mention the Yukon Quest which starts every two years in Fairbanks, and ends every other two years in Fairbanks, both on the Chena River in downtown. Dress-down coats and down-pants optional. The area around Fairbanks is dog mushers’ paradise.
Ice sculpture artist will mention the BP World Ice Championship as a must-have-participated-in at least once in a lifetime. The artist carve sculpture in single or multiple ice blogs depending on the competition they entered. They even carve fashion items! An ice coat anyone?
The Fiddler Festival attracts fiddlers and dancers alike. They and the performers wear kuspaks and fancy gowns. The dancers wear casual clothes with Alaska style jeans (16 oz with flannel plaid lining) and flannel shirts.
The midnight-sun run (10 K) not only attracts serious runners, but also Alaskan costume designers. Dress code: Any sports wear and costume goes as well as casual summer wear. There are various competitions for the best costume. One important pre-requisite for getting the Best Costume Award is to actually do the run in that costume! The route of the run is just around the corner of our street. In the year, when Sarah Palin became Governor of Alaska there was an invasion of Sarah Palins with red blazer, black skirt and 2 inch heel black pumps.
Musicians, actors, dancers and artists of various media are excited about the annual Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival at the end of July. While many of the attendees are from all over Alaska, there are lecturers from all over the world. On the stage, you will see the same high end clothing you see in performances in other places. The audience, however, wears Fairbanks Formal meaning a clean (T-)shirt and dark jeans, which for women means that it is o.k. to wear a fancy vacation or cocktail style dress.
At the end of July, the striking of gold in Fox near Fairbanks by Felix Pedro is celebrated with the Golden Days Parade and many local dance, music, dinning and show events. You can even buy a warrant to have your travel companion, friend, spouse or kid imprisoned. You can get imprisoned yourself by not wearing the Golden Days button or stocking holder of the respective year. This events attracts people from everywhere between the Alaska and Brooks Range as well as tourists. Dress code options: founders’ years attire, kuspaks or casual. You will be immediately recognized as a tourist when you wear long sleeves and pants with a rain jacket and sneakers or Birkenstocks. Fairbanksans bear the rain with an umbrella or just so with short sleeves and pants.
Alaskans in the Interior and on the North Slope get glaze in their eyes about the Tanana Valley Fair in August that provides great shopping and amusement opportunities. Dancing with the Fairbanks Stars is a big attraction like the riesenrad or the plastic bubbles that you enter and then roll with in a big water pool. For my European readers note that this fair is a combined business, trade and funfair. August is the rain season, rain gear is key. Sunshine means shorts and shirts.
Marathon runners think of the must-do-once-in-a-lifetime Equinox Marathon in fall. At that time, temperatures are often already in the 40s to 60s (4 to 15.5o, but the runners wear their normal running gear and on-viewers wear jeans, shirts and a light jacket.
Chinese and Japanese tourists get excited about flying to Fairbanks to watch the aurora in winter.
Year round entertainment
While there are many annual or biennual events in Fairbanks, there are also many monthly events for the locals. I already mentioned the large arts scene in Fairbanks in my post what to wear for First Friday and presented one of the events that presented beautiful (unwearable) dresses.
Have you once been to Fairbanks? Are you planning to visit Alaska? Where would you go and what would you like to see? Let me know by email, I am curious.
When you liked this post or have friends who want to travel to Alaska, tweet them that you found great Fairbanks travel tips.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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