Midnight Sun Festival

Midnight Sun Festival

June 21
The Midnight Sun Festival is a celebration of the Summer Solstice in Nome, Alaska, where the sun shines for better than 22 hours a day in the peak of summer. In Nome, the longest day of the year is feted on two days with a street dance, blanket toss, barbecue, Monte Carlo night (gambling), Eskimo dances, a parade, and a mock bank hold-up and jail. A river raft race has been held at midnight on June 21 since the 1960s. Various homemade rafts paddle down a one- to two-mile course on the Nome River, and the winning team claims a fur-lined honey bucket, which is passed on from year to year. A softball tournament, with about 20 men's and women's teams competing for trophies, precedes the day of the solstice. Games start at about 10 p.m.
Various places in Alaska celebrate the midnight sun in various ways: Skagway throws a dance, and at Tok in 1990, the Frigid Poets Society began the practice of climbing a mountain to watch the sun not set.
In Fairbanks, a midnight baseball game is played without artificial lights. The home team, Fairbanks Goldpanners (the name recalls the gold-rush days of early Fairbanks), is reputed to be one of the best semi-pro teams in the nation. The solstice is also marked with department store sales. On the day before the baseball game, there is a Midnight Sun Run, a 10-kilometer race attracting local and national runners, with refreshments and entertainment at the finish.
This excessive activity at midnight may be at least partly explained by the function of the pineal gland. In humans, this pinecone-shaped gland is thought to produce the hormone melatonin that circulates through the body and triggers two reactions—drowsiness and reduced sex drive. Light inhibits melatonin production and thus makes it easier to do with less sleep when the sun shines. Hence, baseball games at midnight. (It is also a fact that 72 percent of Alaska babies are conceived between May and September.)
CONTACTS:
Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau
550 First Ave.
Fairbanks, AK 99701
800-327-5774 or 907-456-5774; fax: 907-452-2867
www.explorefairbanks.com
Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 240 H-P
Nome, AK 99762
907-443-6624; fax: 907-443-5832
www.nomealaska.org
(c)
References in periodicals archive ?
Midnight Sun Festival , Nome- Celebrate the summer solstice on the Bering Sea with a themed parade, polar bear swim and folk festival organized by the local arts council.
The Midnight Sun Festival in downtown likewise goes until midnight.
About twenty years ago the Rotary Club took it over, and after years of bleeding knees and elbows--but no serious injuries--changed it to the Saturday of the Midnight Sun festival," Rasmussen says.
Alaskans at this year's Midnight Sun Festival in Fairbanks are sure to be lively after weathering spells of forty-below temperatures last winter.
Today, the Midnight Sun Festival features more than 190 booths and three stages with 33 live performances.
In Nome, the Midnight Sun Festival will mark 22 hours of direct daylight for the solstice.
The Midnight Sun Festival draws some out-of-town visitors, but the event chiefly serves as a creative, hilarious community party, she said.
21 Midnight Sun Festival The largest one-day event in Fairbanks offers music, food and family fun on the longest day of the year.
The Bank Hold-Up is an annual event held during the Midnight Sun Festival.