Are you ready to Rondy? The 2017 Fur Rendezvous winter festival kicked off Friday afternoon.

Many who live in Alaska don’t find it unusual to take a Ferris wheel ride in the freezing cold, or run with reindeer through the streets of Anchorage. For people in the Lower 48, Fur Rondy is a chance to see how we celebrate these long, dark winter days.

Phyllis Nilson, from South Carolina, was among the many spectators lined up to watch the World Championship Sled Dog Races.

“Those precious little animals and they get so excited before it starts,” she said. “It’s just a buildup and it’s awesome.”

Nilson said she was looking forward to what Rondy has to offer, including the oyster-shucking contest and the outhouse races.

“I just wanted to experience all of it,” Nilson laughed. “I’ve never been to Alaska in my life. I’ve never really seen much snow in my life.”

For locals like Edward Leon, it’s about celebrating the last few months of winter.

‘”The attitude changes, you can sleep better at night and you’re looking forward to spring and summer and here comes Rondy!” Leon said. “P-A-R-T-Y, by the way if you don’t know how to spell it.”

Out-of-towners like Alison Riley, who’s from Connecticut, are impressed by the dogs’ stamina and Alaskans’ tolerance for the cold temperatures.

“I’m surprised to see this many people outside in this weather because everyone back home pretty much hibernates all winter,” Riley said.

Of course, you can’t have Fur Rondy without the fur. People flocked to the booths and stores to try on beaver earmuffs and fox fur hats, apparel that’s not typical in other places.

“The way of living, the way they survive in this environment is amazing, how they take advantage of this kind of animals,” said Cindy Hernandez from Mexico.

Upcoming Fur Rondy events include the Frost Bite Foot Race, Snow Shoe Softball and the Horn and Hide Auction.

KTVA 11’s Heather Hintze can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter