Anchorage Fur Rondy Memories

Do you know how Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous got it's start? It's now the world's biggest winter carnival. Check out this memory-filled edition.

Let’s travel back to Anchorage in the mid-1930s.

Winter has been long, cold and dark.

And you’ve been stuck in your house. You’re feeling the “Cabin Fever blues” and you need a change.

The town of Anchorage had a population of about 3,000 souls in the mid-1930s. The town was spread out between Ship Creek and the Park Strip.

Anchorage had many “firsts”. This one came from one of it’s town folk.

Vern Johnson had an idea. What if there was a 3 day winter festival? It might just be a great cure for Cabin Fever…

February 15 - 17, 1936

The town of Anchorage came out to enjoy the “Winter Sports Carnival”.

There was hockey, boxing, basketball, skiing and a children’s sled dog race down 4th Avenue.

The first Winter Sports Carnival also included a bonfire and a torchlight parade.

The Fur Rendezvous

In 1938, the Winter Sports Carnival was renamed the Fur Rendezvous to also bring fur traders and trappers to town.

Rondy Firsts

1937

Eileen Bagoy (probably the daughter of the owners of “Flowers by Bagoy”) was crowned the first ever Fur Rendezvous Queen by the Anchorage Women’s Club.

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce added a costumed Mardi Gras type carnival night and a street parade celebrating Washington’s birthday.

1939

Rondy Pins (shown above on these Rondy “Keystone Cops”) began being created and used as a fundraiser for the Rondy.

BONUS

Remember the Rondy “Keystone Cops”? Check out this fun story about what happened if you were not wearing a Rondy Pin.

My Mom Got Put in the Rondy Jail

It happened to Louise Dougherty, the mom of Mike of Anchorage Memories.

1940

John Hedberg (seen above), also known as “Moose Meat John” won the contest for the Longest Beard. The picture above isn’t his winning beard picture.

BONUS

Check out this short Encounter with Moose Meet John by author, Ron Maley right now.

1941

Wally Hickel (yes, that’s Walter Hickel) enters the Fur Rendezvous boxing contest and makes it into the semifinals… He later went on to become the Governor of Alaska and Secretary of Interior under President Richard Nixon… And it all started at the Fur Rondy. Did you know he was a boxer?

1946

3 mushers compete in the first Alaska Championship Sled Dog Races at the Park Strip. The winner was Earl Norris (pictured above).

1953

6 women compete in the first Women’s Alaska Championship Sled Dog Race.

1958

A curling tournament is played on 4th Avenue. Always fun to watch.

1950

The Blanket Toss was added in 1950. Are you in this crowd? The year isn’t known.

Native Alaskans from Nome and Diomede Islands came to Anchorage to demonstrate the Blanket Toss. And judging by the crowd in the picture above, it was a hit.

Did you ever do the Blanket Toss at the Rondy. Tell us about it.

1960

Golden Wheel Amusements adds Carnival rides

1961

Car races begin at Sand Lake. Later they raced in town thru 1972.

TV Coverage

Left to right - Al Bramstedt, news anchor Ty Clark, camera Jim Balog, Bill Stewart and Master of Ceremonies Orville Lake.

BONUS

Rondy Food

Check out this fun story as Mary of Anchorage Memories remembers

Fur Rondy Corn Dogs

DOUBLE BONUS

Rondy Parade

Mike of Anchorage Memories remembers

Marching in the Rondy Parade

TRIPLE BONUS

Rondy Movies

Check out this film of the 1965 Fur Rendezvous with Grand Marshal Michael Landon who played Little Joe on TVs “Bonanza”, the blanket toss, sled dogs and more. This film was shot by Mike of Anchorage Memories.

Remember our Anchorage Airport Memories edition?

George recently sent us his interesting comment.

“We lived across from Merrill field during WWII and they were building a new control tower. We were the last house on 5th Avenue as you were heading toward Mt. View.

The army guards would give us kids an occasional candy bar or comic book and mom would give them a hot cup of coffee. Dad was Alaska Airlines radio man and worked across the street. I have some 16mm movies dad took of an airshow where the planes would dive at balloons and break them. Also film of a hangar that burned and other things. Those were interesting times, blackouts and all!” George

Do you have a comment about a recent edition of your Anchorage Memories VIP newsletter? Send it to us and we’ll include it in an upcoming edition.

Well, the last sled dog team has made it over the finish line on 4th Avenue.

You’ve eaten your Rondy corn dog and enjoyed your time at the Fur Rendezvous.

Did you know that the Fur Rendezvous is now the world’s largest Winter Carnival?

Say, did you have a good time remembering the Rondy? Contact us and let us know about your Rondy memories. Or contact us just to say “hello”. It’s easy.

You can either reply to this email or Contact Us right now.

Until Next Time

Mike & Mary

Anchorage Memories