Busy for Bear Paw

Festival planning is in full swing


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Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber summer intern Katy Bakker poses with the offical 2013 Bear Paw Festival t-shirts at the chamber’s Eagle River offices. Planning for the annual festival is currently in full swing, according to Chamber Special Events Director Merry Braham. The theme for this year’s festival — which will be held July 10 through 14 — is “Roundup at the Bear Paw Corral.” For more on the festival, visit www.bearpawfestival.org or see the official 2013 Bear Paw Guide in this week’s edition of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star.

MATT TUNSETH

The Annie Oakley of Eagle River’s Bear Paw Festival arms herself not with six-shooters but a to-do list longer than a snake’s shadow at sundown.

“I have a yellow legal pad of four pages of things I need to follow up on,” Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber Special Events Director Merry Braham said recently from the chamber’s Eagle River office, which is currently a tornado of Paw-related activity.

The annual festival begins July 10, and Braham said her posse is working nonstop to make sure everything is ready to go when thinks kick off with the 2013 Bear Paw Awards for Community Service.

“We’re certainly keeping busy,” she said.

In addition to Braham, chamber executive director Susie Gorski and intern Katy Bakker are devoting most of their time entirely to Bear Paw. Braham said Bakker has helped shorten her to-do list significantly.

“She came in as a volunteer and did such a good job that we hired her,” Braham said.

Braham said there’s a lot to be done between now and the big event — everything from selling t-shirts to posting online updates to organizing volunteers to spreading the word about this year’s theme, “Roundup at the Bear Paw Corral.” Braham used the chamber’s June 19 meeting to let attendees know about a couple changes in this year’s event schedule, including a change to the IBEW’s annual Alaskan answer to “Iron Chef.”

“This year any Alaska seafood will be eligible,” for the newly-named Seafood Gone Wild Cook-Off, which until this year only allowed salmon dishes.

Braham said the change to the Sunday, July 14 cook-off could mean a more wide-open competition.

“And the winner gets bragging rights and a really cool medal,” she told the chamber.

Entry forms for the cook-off, along with other Bear Paw events, can be found at the festival website, www.bearpawfestival.org. The official guide to this year’s festival is also now available, and was inserted into this week’s edition of the Star or available at the chamber’s office at 12001 Business Boulevard.

A couple western-themed events are also new this year, Braham said. On Wednesday, July 10, there’s a “Boots and Blue Jeans Bash” at Chepos restaurant in Eagle River. The party — which will feature entertainment and prizes for things like “best bum” and biggest belt buckle — has a limited number of tickets for sale.

“They need to get their tickets early,” Braham said.

Also new this year is a real-live rodeo presented by GMC Truck and Rodeo Alaska, which will be held at Eagle River Lions Park July 12-14.

“We’re really looking forward to that,” she said.

Braham said anyone wanting to get in early on the action should visit the festival website or call the chamber at 694-4702. T-shirt sales are ongoing, and the chamber offers a discount on purchases of 10 or more.

“We always sell out,” she said.

Many festival events require advance registration, so Braham said it’s important to plan ahead for the four-day hootenanny.

“It’s coming up real fast,” she said.

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