Thousands Crowd Downtown Fairbanks for 30th Annual Midnight Sun Festival
The combination of good weather and enough attractions to cause sensory overload brought large crowds of Fairbanksans and visitors to Sunday’s Midnight Sun Festival.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
FAIRBANKS — The combination of good weather and enough attractions to cause sensory overload brought large crowds of Fairbanksans and visitors to Sunday’s Midnight Sun Festival.
Guessing exact attendance has always been tricky, but this year was certainly better than the last two rainy years, said Kara Nash, who works year-round to organize the festival for the Downtown Association of Fairbanks.
“Everyone is out today,” she said. “I think having it on Father’s Day actually helped us because people have other commitments during the day and are coming in different waves.”
The Downtown Association estimates approximately 3,000 people attended the festival in each of the past few years, she said.
Now in its 30th year, the festival featured lots of veteran vendors and entertainers, plus a few new ones.
Three stages, each out of earshot of one another, played an assortment of folk, blues, patriotic and classical music to accompany various dance performers.
Just outside the festival proper was a fourth stage for BreakFest, a 4-year-old break dancing event that piggybacks on the popularity of the Midnight Sun Festival.
Returning from a few years away from the festival was the skateboarding area. Skateboarders and a few BMX bikers enjoyed a large audience and a series of ramps on Lacey Street between First and Second Avenue.
Farther down Lacey, a pair of chalk artists with the group Midnight Madonnari created their annual chalk painting. This year, the choice was “The Tease” by John William Goodward, a painting of an elegantly dressed woman teasing a cat.
“We liked it because it had a good, calm summer feel to it,” chalk artist Liz Humphries said.
The colors in the painting also happened to be correspond with the colored chalk the group had in abundance, she said.
There were more than 200 booths this year.
Among the many commercial booths, a T-shirt vendor on First Avenue was getting a lot of attention with Alaska Transplant T-Shirts, a variation of the popular Alaska Grown T-shirts intended for people from Outside.
Not everyone was selling something. Fairbanksan Heather Taggard was there because she wants to start a religious magazine. Her sign advertised “The Golden Heart Beat: Amazing Love Storie and Miracles from the Golden Heart City.” The magazine, which she wants to start soon, will give people an outlet to write about miracles they have experienced related to their faith, she said.
Another new religion-related booth was the Church of Scientology, which came to Fairbanks for the first time with a booth offering free massages to release nerve tension.
Food booths were doing good business and made the streets smell like Thai food with hints of sugar, cooking oil and bulgogi.
This year, the booth “College Tuition Cotton Candy” had an extra sign advertising “Last Kid.”
Deborah Beck, who was working the stand with her youngest daughter, Hannah Beck, said the booth has helped get two other children through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Hannah is now a junior arts and music major at UAF.
One of the festival’s most recognizable snacks was the Potato Tornado, stacks of fried potatoes on a stick. The booth is staffed by the crew of Pita Place and is in its second year at the festival.
The excitement of the Midnight Sun Festival ended well before the sun went down at 12:46 a.m. today, but the Downtown Association is trying to keep some of the solstice magic alive through the summer. A smaller street fair and farmer’s market will be held from 4-8 p.m. in Golden Heart Plaza every Monday through the summer.