Inhabitants of the Golden Heart City can find just about any reason to celebrate, but celebrating the discovery of gold in Fairbanks is one of the biggest reasons to take to the streets, and the Chena River for that matter, and enjoy the long summer days.
Fairbanksans spend more than a week in July celebrating the founding of the city on the banks of the Chena River and the discovery of gold by the legendary Felix Pedro in the hills just north of town.
The 2019 Golden Days celebration, primarily organized by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce with contributing events by several other entities, is scheduled from July 13-21 at venues throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The multi-day celebration of the founding of Fairbanks and the discovery of gold in the hills north of the city features the Grande Parade, a street fair, the Rubber Duckie Race, a river regatta, the Pioneers of Alaska Mug-Up, the 120th anniversary of Old (railroad) Engine No. 1, the Felix Pedro Monument re-dedication and more during its nine-day run.
Visit www.fairbankschamber.org/goldendays for a schedule of Golden Days events and www.goldendaysregatta.com for river regatta information. Both sites are continually being updated as new information becomes available.
The biggest day of the celebration comes on July 20 with the Golden Days Grande Parade presented by Kinross Fort Knox Mine, the street fair presented by Foundation Health Partners and the Rubber Duckie Race presented by Sunrise Bagel and Espresso.
The Grande Parade starts at the Carlson Center and rolls through downtown Fairbanks on Second Avenue and proceeds down Noble Street to Gaffney Road.
The Golden Mile, a Running Club North event that raises funds for the Literacy Council of Alaska, kicks off the day’s events when more than 100 runners follow a mile of the parade route in front of thousands of spectators awaiting the biggest parade in Alaska to begin.
Once the parade has come to an end, the street fair swings into gear on First Avenue and in Golden Heart Plaza with food and craft booths. Free pony rides, a petty zoo and kid’s corner are now parts of the celebration thanks to the UA College Savings Plan.
The Rubber Duckie Race caps the downtown portion of the celebration when thousands of rubber ducks are deposited into the Chena River at the Wendell Street Bridge with the first ducks to reach the finish line at the Cushman Street Bridge earning money for those who have purchased the lucky winning tickets.
More than $20,000 in cash and other prizes are doled out to those who have purchased tickets for either $5 or $10.
Another event added this year on July 20 at Pioneer Park is the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad 120th anniversary of Old Engine No. 1, the first steam engine to pull miners and equipment to the gold fields in the Fairbanks area. The engine is still used to pull the Pioneer Park train on special occasions during the summer.
Other Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce events include a kickoff luncheon on July 16, Old Tyme Games presented by Golden Heart Utilities on July 17, and a Business After Hours event at a location to be determined.
Details on other events, such as a daily pancake feed and the rededication of the Felix Pedro Monument, most likely on July 21, will be announced in the weeks leading up to Golden Days.
The big week should get started with the Golden Days Regatta on July 13. The regatta starts at 11 a.m. at Graehl Landing and ends at Pioneer Park, with the flotilla after-party scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at the International Bar and Lounge.
For rules and regulations and details on how to enter the event, go to www.goldendaysregatta.com.