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By Dan Rudy 

Tent City Days celebration begins tonight


File Photo

Last year Tent City week offered clear cold weather to runners in the Howdy Doody Outhouse 10k Fun Run at City Park.

Despite the unseasonably agreeable weather this winter, Wrangellites can still shake off some of the mid-season lassitude at the town's annual Tent City Days celebration. The festival harkens back to frontier days of the 19th century, when Wrangell played an active role in both the Southeast Alaska and the Klondike gold rushes.

The celebration kicks off tonight with a first-time chowder cook off, held at the Elks Lodge at 6:30 p.m. Contestants are asked to bring pots of their finest by 5 p.m. Dinner-goers will then double as judges, with the winner getting the collected $10 submission fees.

The Elks will also hold their Turkey Shoot through the weekend. Contestants get ten rolls of the dice for a dollar, trying to get the highest number of matches. Prizes will be distributed Sunday for first, second and third placers. The Elks' dice-related "Pig Races" will also begin at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Local resident Penny Allen has been organizing Tent City Days now for nine years.

"There was a time there where Wrangell Chamber (of Commerce) wasn't going to do it anymore," she explained. "I didn't want to see it go away." In addition to her fond memories, Allen said the celebration brings people out and gives them something fun to do during the winter.

The activities schedule has had to be pared down and added to as tastes have changed.

"We cut out events that don't draw crowds," said Allen.

Among them, this year will not feature the traditional bed races down Front Street. "Unless somebody wanted to take it on," said Allen. For the most part, the celebration has taken on more family-friendly activities, such as the "Trappers' Carnival" being put on by Head Start at the SNO Building Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"This is actually only our second year," explained Sandy Churchill. "We have several booths," including a "jail," pop toss, prize cups, cake walk, face-painting and a fish pond.

"There might be two fish ponds," she added.

And of course, there will be plenty of prizes and things to eat. Churchill explained parents involved in the preschool program will be raising money through the food court for this year's graduating class, purchasing backpacks, supplies and warm sweatshirts for the next school year's new kindergarteners.

Volunteers will help put the carnival on, with women from the local Alaska Native Sisterhood camp running the kitchen.

"We're hoping everyone will come out and have fun with their kids," Churchill said.

Also on Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m., the Legion Hall will host the Gold Miners Garage Sale, where there will be baked goods available as well.

At the airplane float from 1 to 3 p.m., anglers can win themselves prizes at the third annual Curley Dog Adult Scrap Fish Derby. Shawn Curley decided to start the event in order to give adults something fun to do during the afternoon.

As in other years, the $5 admission collected will go to a charity. "We really haven't figured one out for this year," Curley said. It may be set aside for covering future medical needs or similar use, or he may give it to St. Francis Animal Rescue. "They're doing some good around here. We'll figure out something."

Free hot dogs will be available for participants, and raffled tickets will be available for a grand prize river trip on Breakaway Adventures and other prizes. Curley said the fishing ought to be good, with salmon spotted nearby at the breakwater and a high tide to look forward to.

Any sport gear is welcome to use, but anglers are reminded to make sure they have updated their fishing licenses before casting.

At the same time Saturday, parents and their kids can enjoy bowling and other free activities at the Elks Lodge, with free hot dogs and drinks.

Saturday evening, people can belly up to Rayme's Bar for Tent City Trivia at 8 p.m. There will be a $50 prize for the winner, plus another $50 for best costume.

The Elks will host its yearly "Long John Bowling" at 9 p.m., where the bowling is free for those wearing their long johns.

The Marine Bar will have its weekly karaoke at 9 p.m., followed by a wet t-shirt and jock contest beginning at midnight.

File Photo

Scott McAuliffe demonstrates equipment used to set traps during a gold panning and trapping expedition in the Nolan Center lobby.

For those needing to jog off the previous evening, on Sunday morning runners and walkers are welcome to join the Southeast Beasts' informal group run at 8:15 a.m. The group will meet and finish at the Stikine Inn, and participants are welcome to sit down to coffee and banter afterward.

Later in the morning, signup for the Bob Smith and Bob Burrill Cribbage Tournament will begin at the Elks at noon, with play starting at 1 p.m.

That afternoon, Alaska Island Community Services' Crossings program will sponsor a dodgeball tournament at the high school gym from 3 to 5 p.m., with kids and adults welcome to play in categories.

The weekend will conclude with a dog show at the old gym at 5 p.m., with categories, tricks and an obstacle course to navigate. Sign-up begins at 4:30. Dogs must be on a lead to participate.


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