A year after celebrating its 70th anniversary, Fur Rendezvous is planning a celebration that blends the old and the new.
Rondy has several new or revitalized events for 2006. The festival is Feb. 17 to March 5. Returning to the festival are the outhouse races and the Miners and Trappers Ball. New events include an Eskimo blanket toss, a multitribal gathering and a Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament.
For the third consecutive year, Rondy will span three weekends. The final weekend overlaps with the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage
"Being timed with the Iditarod has really worked out well," said Robert Arrington, communications director for Rondy. "If people come the last weekend they get to enjoy both the start of the Iditarod, plus they get to enjoy Rondy. We're having the Texas Hold 'Em tournament on the last weekend."
Susan Duck, Rondy's events coordinator, said the poker tournament should be one of the highlights of the festival. The winner will be crowned the Alaska state champion. The participants will be determined through sanctioned tournaments starting Jan. 2. Players from Fairbanks, Seward, Kenai, Anchorage and other locations will get the chance to quality for the Rondy tournament.
Duck said she expects 120 to 140 players for the Texas Hold 'Em tournament.
"We think this should be a lot of fun," she said. "It's going to be quite a tournament. We're looking at being like the WWF meets world poker; it's going to be flashy, with lights and music and a lot going on.
"Poker is really popular right now."
Duck also is excited about the festival's new emphasis on Native events. This year will be the first with a Fur Rondy Multicultural Gathering. The gathering will include drummers, dancers and musicians from across the state. Members of other Native cultures also are invited. Rondy hopes to have a blanket toss in connection with the gathering.
"We hope to have some Pacific Island natives or Native Americans along with the Alaska Natives," Duck said. "It really should be an enjoyable part of Rondy."
The multicultural gathering is Feb. 18-19.
Also during the first weekend is the Miners and Trappers Ball. After being a part of Rondy for years, the ball and the festival went separate directions. But this year the ball is back in connection with Rondy.
Other events on the Rondy schedule include the Grand Parade, fireworks, carnival, arts and crafts show, dog weight pull, fur auction, snowshoe softball and the World Championship Dog Sled Races.
Special sections editor Steve Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4316.