What a weekend for Bear Paw. Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s filled the festival’s final three days Friday, July 12 through Sunday, July 14. Good thing the fire department was there. AFD personnel used Truck 11 to cool down hot festival-goers in the middle of Business Boulevard.
Second time was a charm for Victoria Bensel and Nathan Dennis, whose return trips to the Bear Paw Pageant paid off royally Thursday, July 11 at the Steve Primis Auditorium. Bensel and Dennis earned their Bear Paw King and Queen titles one year after finishing as runners-up in the 2012 scholarship competition.
Rodeo Alaska wanted to bring rodeo back to Chugiak-Eagle River. Given this year’s Bear Paw Festival theme, 2013 was a good year to start. Under the theme Roundup at the Bear Paw Corral, a rodeo was added to the annual festivities in Eagle River for the first time in several years, said event director Merry Braham. It was a huge hit.
Longtime festival voluneer Mitch Braham took home the top individual honor during the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber’s Bear Paw Awards ceremony Wednesday, July 11 at the Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River. Braham earned the 43rd Bear Paw Outstanding Community Service by an Individual Award. The Eagle River Nature Center was honored for the Outstanding Organization Award.
Two Eagle River women helped a team of seven finish 33rd in the Yukon River Quest river race June 26-30. Susan Dunsmore and Deb Anjango were part of voyager canoe team Modern Dwellers, who paddled the 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City in 57 hours, 9 minutes, 32 seconds.
In Iraq they were inseparable, a daring duo whose mission was to seek out dangerous explosives hidden in the desert. But as often happens after a combat deployment, the two friends drifted apart. In the years following Iraq, new assignments and advancing age sent them down separate paths.
Maj. Gen. Michael Garrett’s most recent stay in Alaska has proved to be short-lived. U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) announced July 2 that Garrett — who took over as USARAK commanding general in May, 2012 — has been selected as the next Chief of Staff for U.S. Central Command, which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
At a little before 2 p.m. on an overcast Thursday afternoon, the Old Glenn Highway through Chugiak shut down completely. People sitting in lawn chairs and perched on the back of pick-up truck beds lined the normally busy road. Children chased each other on the nearby bike path while a dad tossed a football to his son in the middle of the empty street. Businesses along the road opened up garage doors and set out barbecue grills.
While the Bear Paw Festival offers plenty of outdoor activities this week, indoor entertainment is going on in Eagle River, too. There’s still six chances to see the Alaska Fine Arts Academy’s production of “This is Where We Came In.” Alan Ayckbourn’s play follows six “players” who are under the control of three storytellers.
Saddle up, Pawdner. Eagle River’s biggest hoe-down of the year has officially begun, as the 2013 Bear Paw Festival got underway Wednesday, June 10 and continues through Sunday.