Alaska’s Multiple 2017 Celebrations

Festivities from the state’s sesquicentennial to a Fairbanks park’s 50th.

The Society of American Travel Writers’ Western Chapter was supposed to meet in Fairbanks next month, but that’s sadly not happening. Even without an SATW presence, there’s a lot happening this year in Alaska.

State Sesquicentennial.  Various communities celebrate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia. Heritage includes Native, Russian and American threads. Sitka National Historical Park in Southeast Alaska is the epicenter of commemorations that kick off on Seward Day, March 30.

University of Alaska Centennial. Located in Fairbanks “America’s Arctic university” turns 100. More than 10,000 students take a variety of courses and participate in a wide spectrum of research opportunities. Centennial programs and activities reflect the variety of academic and cultural offerings. The official ceremony takes place on May 3, 1 to 2:30 p.m., at Centennial Square (near Wickersham Hall).

Driving the Alaska Highway (aka, the Alcan Highway) is one of North America’s epic road trips.

Alaska Highway 75th anniversary.   Expedited by the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, construction on this remarkable route through some of the most remote, most rugged terrain on earth began about three months later. Also called the Al-Can Highway, it is 1,680 miles from Mile 0 at Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia to its terminus at Delta Junction. Upgrades and improvements have reduced its length to 1,390 miles. It continues to the Richardson Highway to Fairbanks.

Pioneer Park at 50. This 44-acre historically themed Pioneer Park, along with the Fairbanks Arts Association, celebrate their 50th anniversaries this year. The park, which bills itself as a “historic theme park,” features museums, historic artifacts and log cabins moved to the site that are into summer-time shops and eateries. Fairbanks Arts, located in the park, is the oldest community arts council in the state. It supports local artists, organizations and audiences via programming in performing arts, literary arts, visual arts and arts education.