Those in the know, or perhaps one might more appropriately say, “the buzz,” of the beekeeping world call him, “the bee whisperer.” Typically, Joe Dunham of Eagle River doesn’t bother to don a protective suit, hat, veil or even gloves when working around the 150 hives he has at five locations in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
The Bear Paw Pageant held July 9 at the Chugiak High School auditorium began with a warning from pageant director Kathleen Kuersten about the 80’s theme: “The music back then was really awful,” she said, adding, “It was difficult to find music from the era that would be…” she paused for a moment. “Appropriate.”
Local runners Jake Moe and Lia Slemons claimed their overall divisions in the Bear Paw 5K race on Saturday, July 11, with times of 15:11.5 seconds and 18:12.7 respectively. Both runners had won the Bear 5K before, and both graduated from Alaska high schools. Slemons, maiden name Ossiander, is a 1998 Chugiak High graduate. Moe graduated from Anchorage Christian Schools in 2003.
Sixteen-year-old Shannon Ross dons her overalls and barn boots twice a day, seven days a week. At 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., she heads to the barn to milk the dairy goats, then quickly brings the container full of milk to the house where it is chilled in the fridge in a bath of ice water.
The Bear Paw Festival has always been about celebrating community, and honoring the people who have given of themselves in service of the community and people of Chugiak-Eagle River, said Merry Braham.
Let’s face it: everything at Bear Paw is awesome. Little girls in tutus dancing to hip-hop on the main stage, while nearby on the park grass Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson military personnel demonstrate how to take down a (pretend) terrorist to enthusiastic onlookers, and delighted kid screams erupt from the carnival: that’s awesome. Kids in ninja outfits doing stunts in town square to hard dance electronica, while families splash through water pouring from a hose atop a firetruck ladder in the street, and the smell of vendor booth food wafts through the air: also awesome. It’s going to be an awesome Bear Paw, and if you want to get the most out of it, dear readers, we at the Star highly encourage you to embrace it.
For the Thompsons, art is a family affair. “I’ve been painting since I was nine,” said Mike Thompson, the patriarch of the family. “My mom was a painter, we all did some kind of art.”