Midnight Sun Game

The sunset is reflected in a spectator's sunglasses during the Alaska Goldpanners Midnight Sun Game against the Seattle Studs Friday night, June 21, 2019 at Growden Memorial Park.

Fairbanksans eager to celebrate the longest day of the year — and first day of summer — will have several opportunities to do so. After a year of cancellations in 2020, most solstice festivities are back in 2021. Here’s what to expect for this year’s Midnight Sun Run, Midnight Sun Festival and Goldpanners Midnight Sun Game.

Midnight Sun Run 

The Midnight Sun Run will be a virtual race for the second consecutive year. While the loss of an in-person event is disappointing, the virtual format allows for greater flexibility.

“A virtual race provides an opportunity for people to create their own race experience,” said race director Wendy Cloyd.

Instead of completing a set course at one time, participants can choose when and where to tackle the 10 kilometer event. Athletes will have from Friday through Monday to complete 6.2 miles of walking or running.

Walkers and runners should use a tracking app to record distance and time. Each participant will be sent a personal link from the race platform Athlinks where they can upload their results. Times will display like regular race results, but results cannot be certified and therefore prize money will not be allocated.

Since the Midnight Sun Run is as much about costumes as it is about running, there will be a virtual costume contest. Race and costume photos can be uploaded to midnightsunrun.net under Race Details. Photos will be compiled into an album on the event’s website and Facebook page. Costume pictures will be used for the contest. Winners will receive prizes donated by Ascension Rock Club, The Prospector and Lane’s Quickie Tacos. Additionally, all registrants will be entered into a drawing to win two round trip tickets on Alaska Airlines.

According to Cloyd, 450 people are currently registered for the race, with about 100 of those from outside of Fairbanks.

Cloyd said that the Midnight Sun Run is looking forward to 2022, when they will celebrate the race’s 40th anniversary.

Midnight Sun Festival

The 2021 Midnight Sun Festival will be much the same as past years, but with additional spacing, explained Downtown Association Executive Director David van den Berg. The Midnight Sun Festival is noon to midnight Saturday in downtown Fairbanks.

Those familiar with the event will recognize core features: it is “immutably” a large street festival, said van den Berg. The main difference is scale; number of vendors has been reduced to allow for greater social distancing. A silver lining, though, is that the reduced density will better showcase downtown businesses, said van den Berg.

In addition to over 70 vendors, there will be two stages (one on Cushman Street and one on Noble Street), each with a different band. A new band will take the stage every hour. The festival will also include what van den Berg referred to as community “activations.” This includes the Kendall Hero Games, a competition between first responders and military service members as well as three on three basketball games from 1-6 p.m.. Lastly, the festival will feature a vaccine clinic in the Golden Heart Plaza.

Van den Berg noted that there is no reason to believe the public will treat this year’s Midnight Sun Festival any differently than other years, so they are prepared for a large crowd. 

Goldpanners Midnight Sun Game

After playing their first home game in two years last week, the Alaska Goldpanners will again hold the infamous Midnight Sun Game on Monday. The Goldpanners will take on the Washington-based Everett Merchants at 10 p.m. at Growden Park.

The Goldpanners were forced to cancel several games earlier this week after players contracted Covid-19. However, General Manager John Lohrke was confident that the Midnight Sun Game would still be on, he told the News-Miner Tuesday.

Last year, the Goldpanners cancelled their season and did not play in the Midnight Sun Game for the first time in 60 years. Yet the 100 plus year tradition continued, as players from the Adult Amateur Baseball League competed amongst themselves.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.