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Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
Denali National Park and Preserve, its partners, and the Denali Borough communities are inviting everyone to come celebrate all that is special about our longest season during the ninth annual Winterfest Celebration, taking place Friday, February 20 through Sunday, February 22. This year’s schedule is packed with an ever-broadening array of events for all ages, interests, and abilities, with some new additions. Premiering activities include a Saturday family fun run on the Denali Park Road, which can be done on foot, snowshoes, skis, bikes or anything non-motorized (ice conditions permitting); a two-day art and quilt show and a progressive Sunday brunch.
The weekend festivities kick off on Friday evening at the McKinley Park Community Center with a 7:00 p.m. dessert potluck, followed by an illustrated program at 7:30 p.m. entitled “Antarctica: Sailing Expedition to the end of the Earth” presented by adventurer Troy Henkels. In 2007 Henkels and photographer Laurent Dick joined an international sailing expedition to follow the route of Roald Amundsen and Dr. Frederick Cook’s first scientific journey to Antarctica that took place 110 years ago. Henkels will share video footage, Laurent’s stunning still images, and stories from their epic voyage. The Community Center is located about one-half mile from the Parks Highway at the Mile 230 turnoff.
The National Park Service will host a wide variety of events on Saturday, February 21 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at or near the Murie Science and Learning Center located at Mile 1.3 on the Denali Park Road. Offerings include sled dog rides, a ranger-guided snowshoe walk, ice carving, snow sculpting, children’s crafts, GPS route-finding, samples of Denali’s new on-line podcasts, and several indoor presentations. Hot drinks and refreshments will be provided, and a selection of park-related publications will be available for sale.
Saturday events are also taking place in Healy, including tours of the Usibelli Coal Mine, hockey matches, a homebrew competition and a chili cookoff. The day is topped off with a free chili feed beginning at 6:00 p.m., accompanied by music and other live entertainment, and a 50th anniversary of Alaska statehood birthday cake. The day ends with dancing to live music. The Tri-Valley Community Center is located at Mile 0.5 on the Usibelli Spur Road (Mile 248.8 Parks Highway).
Sunday activities include the first-ever progressive brunch taking place at the Community Center from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., mine tours, and the Winterfest Crafts Bazaar featuring local artisans from 1:00-5:00 p.m. The celebration will conclude Sunday evening with a showing of “One Man’s Wilderness” from 6-7:30 p.m. This is a documentary compiled from the journals of Dick Proenneke about his life in a cabin on the shore of Twin Lakes, located in what later became Lake Clark National Park. Proenneke decided to build his own cabin in the wilderness when he retired in 1967 at age 50. After spending a summer selecting the site and preparing the logs, he returned the following year to finish the cabin. He lived there for over 30 years, rarely venturing outside the area until he left to be closer to family at age 82. He died in 2003.
Many new community activities are taking place at the three Denali Borough Schools and in the evenings during the preceding week. The complete schedule of activities is posted at www.nps.gov/dena and www.denaliborough.govoffice.com.
Meals, lodging and other services are available year-round in the communities of Healy and Cantwell. Free camping is available at the park’s Riley Creek Campground, with no running water. A vault toilet is provided for winter campers and water can be obtained at the Murie Science and Learning Center.
Winterfest is a community-wide event made possible by the assistance and contributions of Alaska Geographic, Denali Borough, Denali Borough School District, Denali Chamber of Commerce, Denali Education Center, National Park Service, and Princess Tours. For Winterfest Celebration information call the Murie Science and Learning Center at (907) 683-9532 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily.