The 79th annual winter carnival kicked off Friday
ANCHORAGE – “Three! Two! One! Go!” shouted the announcer. A team of sprint dogs raced across the snowy starting line.
With that the 2014 Fur Rendezvous festival was underway.
One of the biggest crowd pleasers is the World Championship Sled Dog Races.
“This is the prerequisite for everything,” said Fur Rondy Executive Director Jeff Barney. “It’s the grandfather of all the races. It’s prior to the Iditarod, prior to the Yukon Quest. It’s a bucket list thing. That’s why we have Lance Mackey running it this year.”
Hundreds of people turned out to watch the dog teams take off. The race is especially fun for Rondy first timers, like Alyssa Denny.
“I’ve never seen a dog race before so I want to see it live,” she laughed.
Of course you can’t have Fur Rondy without the fur. Waino Salo stood out in the sea of fur with his lynx hat, made from two lynxes.
“I created this hat myself,” he said. “I wanted it to be something a little bit different. I didn’t just want it to be a hat.”
Down at Ship Creek the giant snow sculptures were starting to take shape.
“We’re doing a Chinese dragon going over the top of a pagoda,” said Wade Pier as he chiseled the snow.
He and his teammate will spend at least 60 hours each transforming the block of snow into a work of art.
“It’s like being a kid all over again,” Pier said. “You get a week of spending time playing outside in the snow as opposed to working.”
Whether it’s watching carvers work or cheering on the dog teams, Rondy has something for everyone.
“The days are getting longer, the people are out,” Salo said. “If anybody has any cabin fever this will cure it in a heartbeat. It’s just having fun.”