Photo Credit: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival

Fairbanks Fairs & Festivals

For a town of modest size, Fairbanks has a knack for throwing a good party. Whether it’s on the streets, in the river, or scattered among dozens of venues throughout the city—Fairbanks has a surprising number of signature events and community traditions that attract statewide attention and prove popular with visiting guests.

Fairbanksans are more in tune with their natural surroundings than your average city folk, so community celebrations are often tied to dramatic changes in seasons. The most obvious examples are summer and winter solstice, marked by festivals, a midnight baseball game, a fun run, and a fireworks show. In most places, these dates pass by with little notice. Not in Fairbanks. Others celebrate the season’s bounty, like local farmers markets and the giant vegetables at Tanana Valley State Fair.

Fairbanks loves to get in character each summer for the historic celebration of Golden Days, wherein the most notable chapters in local history are dusted off in the form of a traveling jailhouse, period costumes, and a grande parade through downtown. It’s an extended celebration of a brief period in history that still manages to evoke nostalgia in both old timers and newcomers alike.

The passions and hobbies of residents define many of the annual happenings in town, and are a window into the types of activities that locals like to support. All types of art-related endeavors (from the culinary to the classic) are taught and shared through the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics brings athletes from the circumpolar north to the biggest venue in town to showcase and preserve the traditions of Native people. More than a few events reveal the silly streak of Fairbanks, including a duct-tape river crawl and a rubber ducky race that runs several thousand strong.

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Fairs & Festivals

The World Eski­mo-Indi­an Olympics (WEIO) were formed over fifty years ago to spread knowl­edge and aware­ness of tra­di­tion­al skills and games to vis­i­tors and res­i­dents of Alas­ka. Each sum­mer, the top ath­letes from the cir­cum­po­lar north (includ­ing teams from Green­land and Rus­sia) gath­er in Fair­banks to com­pete in tests of strength, endurance, bal­ance, and tol­er­ance for pain. World Eski­mo-Indi­an Olympics usu­al­ly runs from July 16th-19th at the  ...more

Each year, the streets of down­town Fair­banks burst with a 12-hour, fam­i­ly-friend­ly street fair packed with live music, per­for­mances and hun­dreds of booths sell­ing food, crafts, offi­cial fes­ti­val t‑shirts, and hand­made sou­venirs. Activ­i­ties include face paint­ing, gold pan­ning, an annu­al BBQ cook-off, sled dog pup­pies, and a skate park. This pop­u­lar block par­ty reflects the impor­tance of sum­mer sol­stice to Inte­ri­or Alaskans. 

Very few art fes­ti­vals in the coun­try are as bold­ly mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary as the Fair­banks Sum­mer Arts Fes­ti­val with class­es in music, dance, the­atre, visu­al arts, lit­er­ary arts, culi­nary arts, and heal­ing arts. Fair­banks Sum­mer Arts Fes­ti­val hosts a thou­sand peo­ple, from begin­ners to advanced prac­ti­tion­ers, reg­is­ter each year to explore their inner artist. 

Reach­ing deep into a sleeve of hot ket­tle corn for the ker­nels at the bot­tom amid a pop-up city of white tent tops is an easy recipe for a clas­sic after­noon in Fair­banks. Farm­ers mar­kets dou­ble as open-air social halls to run into friends and neigh­bors while shop­ping, and also play host to cook­ing demon­stra­tions, com­pe­ti­tions (like the pur­ple veg­etable con­test), and live music. 

For an authen­tic Alaskan cel­e­bra­tion, head to Fair­banks in the third week of July. That’s when res­i­dents cut loose in hon­or of their Gold Rush his­to­ry, dur­ing a five-day fes­ti­val they call Gold­en Days. Bank man­agers dress up as sour­dough min­ers, wait­ress don fluzie” out­fits, and most of the city turns out for races, parades, and great food. It’s a great time to meet locals — who are in a fes­tive, social mood — and to be swept up in a big Alaskan  ...more

This is the lot­tery, Alas­ka-style. To enter, just buy a tick­et and pick the date and time (down to the minute) in April or May when you think the win­ter ice on the Tanana Riv­er will break. Win­ning could mean a wind­fall: the pool has reached near­ly $300,000 in recent years. 

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