Activities Abound to Celebrate
the Midnight Sun.
No one sleeps during the Summer Solstice. (Actually, we try not to sleep
much all summer - we have to cram in all the fun we can before winter!)
Summer solstice celebration begins during the third week in June although the
actual solstice is not until June 21.
Those who enjoy "spectator sports" can see a midnight baseball game
played with no artificial lights, only the light of the "Midnight Sun." Or, if
you prefer to participate, you can take a midnight run or play a round of golf. Fairbanks
has all of these if you can stay awake.
"A combination picnic, campout, and tailgate party"
the News-Miner calls the small, impromptu, informal party held
every year on a mountain top north of Fairbanks. Eagle Summit is
the spot, 107 miles up the Steese Highway. It is a good place to
set up your camera and tripod to take multiple exposures as the sun moves
slowly across the horizon, never quite touching the Crazy
Mountains in the distance.
June 21 marks the halfway point for summer and the beginning of our descent
into another winter, so we use this time to celebrate warm weather while we can. Here are
a few of the events that usually happen. Chances are, most will occur this
year as well. See the event calendar for updates (When we have time and
information!). Just in case, here is
the official site for it - you can check there for yearly updates.
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The Midnight Sun Baseball Game
This one of Fairbanks oldest traditions. It features the local semi-pro
baseball team, the Alaska Goldpanners, a club from which has come such former major
leaguers as Dave Winfield, Tom Seaver and Graig Nettles.
The first Midnight Sun game was played in 1906. The News-Miner wouldn't give
free publicity to the teams' sponsors so the competing squads were identified to readers
as "The Drinks" and "The Smokes."
The annual game is occasionally moved to accommodate the weather. Sunset
begins to the north when the game starts at 10:30 p.m. Before the end, the sun is back
above the horizon.
We espect the annual midnight sun game will be held
on Sunday, June 19, 2011 starting at 10:30 pm. The game is at Growden Memorial Park.
The tradition was adopted by the Panners in
1960, their first season of operation. Through 1962, the Panners
met the North of the Range All-Stars but, since 1963, a
different opponent - usually from out of state - has been
invited each year to participate in the symbolic event.
As always, play will be stopped at the half-inning nearest
midnight for the traditional singing of the Alaska Flag Song.
Fairbanks City Clerk Nancy DeLeon, often a Midnight Sun Game
entertainer, led the celebration of the Midnight Sun
with the singing of the Alaska Flag Song last in 2001. She died that year
and is sorely missed.
If you miss the Midnight Sun game, you can still catch the Goldpanners. They
are scheduled to play 26 home games at Growden Field off Wilbur St. this summer. Games
usually start at 7 p.m. For more information on their schedule, check out their
Click here for a report on
the 2000 game.
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Midnight Sun Fun Run
This annual run in 2009 was on Saturday, June 20, 2009, 10:00 PM from the UAF Patty Center to Pioneer Park (almost downtown). It starts on the Lower
Campus, University of Alaska Fairbanks. It is America's farthest north 10k run, begins at 10 p.m. and is
usually sponsored by the
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. We have a picture of
it for you, courtesy of Julie Coghill.
This third-largest foot race in Alaska attracts more than 3,000 runners from
around the state and the Lower 49. It has become a tradition of sorts among some
participants to wear costumes, for which prizes are awarded (costumes are
optional). The race starts at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center, winding through residential neighborhoods,
and finishing at Pioneer Park (formerly Alaskaland). For further
information, contact the Midnight
Sun Fun Hotline at 452-6046, or call (907) 452-7211. You might also try the
United Way Web Site.
$15 until June 10th
$20 after June 10th
$30 Race Day
Registration Closing Date, Thursday, June 18, 2009 @ 1:00 PM
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Midnight Sun Dances
Local square and round dancers celebrate the Midnight Sun with square and
round dances at the Alaskaland Dance Center at Alaskaland. The first
Midnight Sun Dance, sponsored by the Polar Promenaders, was held on June 18, 1966. The
Polar Promenaders are inactive at the present time, so the tradition is being carried on
by the Santa's Swingers Square and Round Dance Club.
Admission usually $5 each night. For dates and times, see Music/Dance
Calendar, or call (907) 479-4522.
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Yukon 800 Marathon Riverboat Race
Another highlight of Midnight Sun Weekend is the Yukon 800 riverboat race.
Run on the Chena, Tanana, and Yukon Rivers, traveling through
hundreds of miles of vast Alaskan wilderness, it is billed as the longest,
roughest and toughest speed boat race in the world. It's an 800-mile race from Fairbanks to Galena and back.
We think this year racers will leave Pike's Landing at 11 a.m. on June 2o, 2009 and, after an overnight
stay in Galena, return to Fairbanks the following day. For more information,
check out their site at
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Midnight Sun Festival
Midnight Sun Festival-(6/20/10). Celebrating the longest day of the year with music, shopping, crafts, special
entertainment, and a downtown street fair. Many stores stay open until midnight.
Organizers claim over 30,000 participated in recent years. We find that hard to swallow,
but it is still a big event and worth joining in. (907) 452-8671
In the past, a total of 40 bands and live acts have performed between noon and
midnight in the parking lot between First and Second avenues, between Cushman and Lacey
streets. There are over 180 booths of arts, crafts, merchandise,
information, food, and fun! Skateboarding, face painting, xtreme car racing,
paddler’s river slalom race, break dancing, pony rides, vintage motors, BBQ
cook-off, gold panning, break dancing, celestial shopping, fabulous food and
so much more! Expect Alaskan-made arts and crafts. In 1998,
the music, food and family fun was followed by a parade at 6 p.m. featuring the Red Hackle
Pipe Band and Chinese Ribbon Dancers.
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Chatanika Music Festival
Music lovers may want to consider a trip out the Steese Highway for the
Chatanika Music Festival, the largest musical event in Interior Alaska. The three-day
event is at the Chatanika Gold Camp at 27.5 Mile Steese Highway. Thirty
local bands are scheduled to perform. Food and beverage vendors will be on
hand. Rental cabins & campsites are available, and so are food and beverage
vendors. Exact dates vary. For information, call 389-2414.
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View the Midnight Sun
If you would rather just view the Midnight Sun, or try your hand at
photographing a sun that never sets, head out to Murphy Dome or Eagle Summit on the
Steese Highway for a view of the Midnight Sun. Murphy Dome
is located 25 miles outside of town and provides a spectacular view of the Chatanika River
Valley and Minto Flats.
Weather permitting, Eagle Summit provides a clear view of the midnight sun.
It's the highest point on the Steese Highway
with an elevation of 3,624 feet. This spot also provides a view of the Chatanika River
along with the Chena River State Recreation Area and a pair of favorite local resorts;
Chena Hot Springs and Circle
"Soaring into Solstice"
Eielson Air Force Base usually has an open house from 10 a.m. to
7 p.m. featuring aerial demonstrations, displays of military personnel, &
Shopping Under the Midnight Sun
And if you are a mall maniac, you can indulge your hobby Midnight Sun Weekend
when stores stay open late. Enjoy the street fair downtown!
Watch for ads in the newspaper.