FAIRBANKS - Galena was the scene of some bigtime music and fun earlier this month. The occasion was the 24th annual Yukon Jamboree.
Ten bands traveled from surrounding villages to play traditional music and prepare for the Athabascan Fiddle Festival in Fairbanks next month.
A raffle covered travel costs, accommodation and gave each band a stipend. Prizes included $500, $250, round-trip flights and freight shipping, a bicycle, Nintendo Wii, camping gear, and birch bark baskets. The raffle brought in $5,300 from Oct. 11-14 in Galena to cover the costs of the event.
“From $2 raffles,” committee president Nicole Gregory said. “Isn’t that awesome?”
The jamboree wasn’t all music, however.
Booths offered vaccinations, while local vendors and artists sold food. Activities for small children included face painting and hula hoop contests.
“I really liked that the little kids were asking the elders to dance. The little kids were so excited about it,” Gregory said.
The event was organized by a committee of seven community members, with more volunteers helping out during the event. Gregory estimates that 500 people attended from Galena and neighboring villages. Several groups made the boat trip on the Yukon, and the committee was pleased with the turnout.
“The dance floor was packed,” Gregory said.
Traditionally, the event is alcohol and drug-free. “There are so many Natives in the world abusing alcohol and drugs,” she said, “and we wanted to show them you can still have fun and be sober.”
Next year will be the event’s 25th anniversary. Gregory is already getting ready. “We’re gonna try to do it big,” she said.
Sarah Richards is a News-Miner intern and journalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.