Join your FREE Anchorage Memories VIP Club
These precious Anchorage Fur Rendezvous memories will fill your heart as you recall Rondys gone by.
A trip to Fairbanks in 1934, to participate in that cities Ice Carnival and Dog Derby, gave Vern Johnson and his friends an idea.
Fur trappers and miners came into Anchorage every year during the month of February to sell their furs and other things.
So, what if there was some kind of fun gathering, like they had in Fairbanks, where everyone could take a break from the long winter and cabin fever?
To start things off in Anchorage, in 1935, Vern Johnson and his friends put together a community dance. It was well received.
And that was the beginning of the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous.
The following year, in 1936, Johnson put together the Winter Sports Tournament, a 3-day event held February 15, 16 and 17. Events included a children's dog sled race, a skiing contest, a hockey game, and a parade right down 4th Avenue. There was also a dance and a bone fire at what is now called the Park Strip.
Later, the name of the event was changed to the Fur Rendezvous, and it still takes place every February in Anchorage.
Today, Vern Johnson is considered the father of the Fur Rendezvous.
Left to right are KENI General Manager Al Bramstedt, News Anchor Ty Clark, Camera Operator Jim Balog, Bill Stewart and Host Orville Lake.
For many years, KENI-TV (now KTUU) televised the Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Races.
You could go into town to take in the Rondy, then head home to warm up while you watched the races on TV and cheered for your favorite musher.
KENI-TV Rondy Sled Dog Race theme song?
It was De Selvera's “Sleigh-Ride in Alaska” (1959).
Enjoy this vocal version and remember when.
Just click on the following link
Share your memories!
Click below to see stories from other visitors to this page...
Michael Landon Rides
in the Fur Rondy Parade
The NBC western TV series Bonanza was on television from 1959 to 1973. Michael Landon, who played “Little Joe Cartwright” was on Bonanza, and was quite …
1965 Fur Rendezvous
Back in 1965, I walked to downtown Anchorage to film the Fur Rendezvous parade and other Rondy activities with my new 8mm film camera. I was attending …
in the Fur Rondy Parade
If you were in a marching band in Anchorage's yearly February, Fun Rendezvous Parade, there were three things you always worried about. Would you slip …
Rainbow Girl Drill team Not rated yet
I lived on Fort Richardson and belong to the Rainbow Girls of Anchorage. We had a drill team, and we practiced in the hangers at Elmendorf. We marched …
Fur Rondy Corn Dogs Not rated yet
Yes! I loved my Fur Rondy corn dogs. I liked them best with ketchup. My husband Mike told me he liked his best with mustard. It was the grand …
My Mom Got Put in
the Rondy Jail Not rated yet
My first memory of the Fur Rendezvous was a little scary. I was about 5 years old when I experienced my first Fur Rondy. Dad was working, so mom took …
Anchorage's Winter Carnival Not rated yet
It All Started Back in 1935 By Mary J. Dougherty The first Anchorage Fur Rendezvous was February 15th through the 17th. Vern Johnson …
From the Anchorage Memories VIP Club:
Remember exciting events like the Blanket Toss, the Rondy Parade, Sled Dog Races, Carnival Rides, Special Movies at the 4th Avenue Theatre, and so much more.
What are your memories of Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous winter carnival?
In 1965, Michael Landon who played “Little Joe” on the hit TV series Bonanza, was the Grand Marshal of the Fur Rendezvous parade.
Photo by Gene Gough
Notice in the picture above, that the idea of kids and sled dogs being a part of the winter festival was still going strong in 1946.
The name “Fur Rendezvous” came into being when fur trappers got together to sell their furs and kick up a little snow as a way to shake off the long winter in early Anchorage.
In Alaska, everyone knows that late February is time for Rondy fun.
Now, people from all over the world converge in Anchorage, Alaska for events like:
And much more fun, food, and games
Have you ever ridden a Ferris Wheel in the winter when it was below zero outside?
That's just one of the fun, and unique attractions Mike and Mary, the authors of Anchorage Memories.com remember enjoying.
One year Mike and his brother Tom and their band “The Matadors” played to a delighted crowd on the Melodrama stage during Rondy. Great fun.
And each year, Anchorage's popular 4th Avenue Theater played a movie to compliment the Fur Rendezvous.
One year Mike and Mary remember seeing the Charlie Chaplin silent movie “The Gold Rush.” Another time, the 4th Avenue played “Joniko and the Kush Ta Ka” an Alaskan movie produced in Juneau, Alaska by filmmaker, Chuck Keen.
And one year they screened a locally produced movie about an Iditarod dog sled team titled “Hot Foot to Nome.”
Mike of Anchorage Memories recalls getting out of school to enjoy the Fur Rendezvous.
“When we were teenagers, mom drove me, my sister Anna and brother Tom to downtown Anchorage during the Rendezvous, gave us each some spending money and told us where she would meet us later and to enjoy our day.
We would walk around, watch the dogs getting ready to race, go to the Carnival, or maybe even see a special movie at the 4th Avenue Theatre.
The Fur Rendezvous was a fun time for everyone. And we could also stay home (and stay warm) as we watched all the excitement of the sled dog races on KENI-TV channel 2.”
The Rondy dog sled race featured mushers from all over Alaska and the world.
One local favorite was dog sled musher, George Attla. In fact, he was so popular that his life story was made into a movie.
Take a look at this clip from the movie, featuring Buffy Sainte Marie singing the title song of the George Attla movie, “Spirit of the Wind”.
Click on the following link:
In the photo above:
Notice the advertisers listed above the show's cast.
In the 1940s, during the years of World War II, Anchorage did not have a Fur Rendezvous. And Anchorage residents were left without their favorite winter gathering.
But in 1943, Lorene Harrison (the Hat Box), who was very talented when it came to music and putting together shows, had an idea.
She decided that Anchorage still needed some fun, even if there was a war.
So, Harrison put together a show to provide the community with some homegrown entertainment.
It wasn't the Fur Rendezvous, but it had to do for the moment.
The show was, called “Bonanza Days” and it was presented at the Log Cabin USO.
Bonanza Days turned out to be a big hit and the show played to standing room only crowds.
In 1936, Vern Johnson and some friends had an idea for a winter gathering the community might enjoy.
In 2012, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous Festival was selected as the number one Winter Carnival in the world, by National Geographic Traveler.
Now people from around the world come to Anchorage, Alaska each year to experience North America's number one winter carnival.
Alaska is a special place and the Fur Rendezvous is a great experience.
To learn more, visit the Greater Anchorage, Inc website.
“I’ve learned a lot about my hometown of Anchorage, and you’ve jogged memories of things I haven’t thought about for years. I can only say YAY!” Juanita.
Join your free Anchorage Memories VIP Club
A treasure chest of precious memories, delivered right to your email in-box three times each month.
Discover Alaska Facts and History
Meet Anchorage Pioneers
PLUS you'll receive your free Anchorage e-book when you join
Click on the following link