Victoria Barber

TRAPPER CREEK -- Trapper Creek Bluegrass, perhaps Alaska's quirkiest festival, turns 10 this year. The event is part music fest and part installation art show; it has an atmosphere that's like a house party in a gypsy caravan that is also throwing a yard sale.

Located on about 40 acres of land called Boot’s Bison Ranch off the Parks Highway, the twice-yearly festival wrapped up its first weekend over Memorial Day and will be back this August...

Victoria Barber

Trees are leafing out, people are playing outdoors and all kinds of events are cropping up around Anchorage and the surrounding area. Here are a few of our top picks for Saturday.

Festival

Petals 'N' Spokes

Head to Town Square this weekend for a celebration of things coming into bloom. The Petal 'N' Spokes party will have hanging baskets for sale, live music and activities -- including face-painting, a bubble tower and a giant kayak pool -- to keep the family entertained. Get tips from a master gardener and bid on silent auction items to benefit the "Foster a Flower" program. Children can plant a flower to take home for free. Noon-6 p.m. Saturday in Town Square Park. (anchoragedowntown.org; 279-5655)

Festival

'In-Tent-City’ party...

Victoria Barber

There’s something charming about just the existence of a German restaurant in Mountain View. You'll find West Berlin’s bright storefront on the same strip as Vietnamese pho, pizza, Hawaiian food, Thai, an Asian grocery, African food truck and a Dominican restaurant. If Anchorage has an international district, this is it.

In college I was briefly an exchange student in Frankfurt. My German remained, well ... not so "gut." But the experience taught me to love mayonnaise with my fries, soda mixed into my beer and all things related to German cuisine. So it was with some excitement that I grabbed a friend who’d lived in Vienna and ventured out to dinner last week...

Victoria Barber
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There’s something charming about just the existence of a German restaurant in Mountain View. West Berlin opened about four months ago, and on the inside, it still has that new restaurant feel -- it’s nicely done up and a little sparse....

Victoria Barber

“Emotional Creature” is a play currently midway through its run at Cyrano’s that sets out to explore the inner lives of 21st century women around the world -- the ways they speak out, stay silent, rebel and conform.

This is not a single dramatic narrative but a series of monologues interspersed with some ensemble pieces and musical numbers. It’s performed by seven young Anchorage actresses who sometimes play the same character in different scenes but more often jump to different roles and cultures...

Victoria Barber

Note: Chinese New Year will begin on Thursday, Feb. 19. We originally hoped to run former state Poet Laureate Tom Sexton’s poem, printed here with the author’s permission, on Jan. 1. But other events intervened. However, it seems that the start of the Year of the Goat is an even more appropriate for this poem given the characteristics associated with the year and those born in it: gentleness, stability, sympathy, inclined toward delicate thoughts, strong creativity, a desire to avoid being the center of attention but instead to experience the world as an integral part of it and spending much time in thoughtfulness. Happy new year.

-- Mike Dunham

Clearing After Snow Over Mountains and River

By Tom Sexton...

Mike Dunham,Victoria Barber

The State Fair has announced the first five acts coming up for the 2015 Alaska State Fair. So far there's a lot of country, a little rock 'n' roll and some classic rock, too.

Among them is Kacey Musgraves ("Merry Go 'Round," "Follow Your Arrow"), whose debut release "Same Trailer Different Park" won Grammys for best country album and best country song in 2014. She'll be joined by Nashville hit-maker Lee Brice ("I Drive Your Truck") and Grammy-nominated David Nail ("Whatever She's Got").

Over on the rock side of things, "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry will bring up his pop-rock band Daughtry ("It's Not Over," "Home"). Rounding out the group is classic jazz rock group Blood Sweat and Tears ("You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel")...

Victoria Barber

So it hasn't been the coldest winter, but that hasn't stopped the usual January woes -- it's dark, it's chilly, the holidays are over and, of course, everyone seems to be coming down with something.

Cheer up these midwinter nights with one of life's great pleasures: a beautifully constructed bowl of soup. From spicy kimchi to savory French onion, our staff lists their picks for outstanding bowls around town. (And there's a bonus recipe for those who prefer to cook their own). Grab a spoon and get comfortable...

Victoria Barber

I want to start by pointing out some of the positives about Hard Rock Café Anchorage. Located where a certain notorious nightclub used to be, Hard Rock has already gone out of its way to create a venue for local musicians (the Whipsaws will be rocking out for the winter solstice). They've also hosted fundraisers for a number of worthy community causes -- Breast Cancer Focus Alaska, Toys for Tots, Bean's Café and others.

It seems that Hard Rock’s management is making an effort to get involved in the community when they could have stuck to luring in tourists walking the Fourth Avenue strip. Good for them.

Now, about the dining experience...

Victoria Barber

Holiday roundup: Favorite recipes for your Thanksgiving table

Looking for a little inspiration for your holiday feast? We've assembled a collection of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes shared over the years by Alaska Dispatch News food writers. From starters and savory sides to sweet and decadent desserts, traditional Alaska foods, and even the next day's breakfast, this list offers something to tempt every palate, impress every in-law, and leave every guest begging to take home leftovers. Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Victoria Barber

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