1. Viewing the life cycle of salmon
Major updates to the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Macaulay Hatchery are exciting for fish and visitors alike. The $4 million project, the hatcheryâ€™s first major expansion since its construction in 1989, allows visitors to walk along a skywalk and look down at fry in four large concrete tanks as the fish grow in their environment. Eight large windows, upgrades from the previous smaller viewing areas, illuminate the skywalk and the raceway below for added visibility. The expansion took roughly three years to complete, and the new building and accompanying warehouse opened this past spring with the overall goal of increasing the salmon population in the Juneau area. The hatchery offers the opportunity to learn about the life cycle of salmon with the capability to visually understand their environment and watch the staff work with the fish. Both summer and winter tours are available for visitors of all ages, with admission prices starting at $3.25 per person. Additional features at the facility include salt-water aquariums, interactive displays as well as a surrounding landscape and observation deck built to make guests feel like they are standing over the water. For more information, visit: http://www.dipac.net/New%20VC%20Website/visit.html.
Contact: Elizabeth Arnett, Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo credit: Douglas Island Pink and Chum Macaulay Hatchery
2. Alaska Federation of Natives Convention to be held in Fairbanks
The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska, announced the 2013 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention will be held in the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks. Held in Anchorage in previous years, AFN will run from Oct. 24-26, preceded by the Elder and Youth Conference from Oct. 21-23. The Alaska Federation of Natives is made up of nearly 180 villages, 13 regional Alaska Native corporations and 11 regional nonprofit and tribal associations. AFN helps to promote these unique cultural groups and provide a forum for the advocacy of cultural, economic and political progressions of the Alaska Native community. AFN draws between 4,000 and 5,000 attendees, the largest representative annual gathering of any Native people in the United States. The proceedings are broadcast live across Alaska for those who cannot make the trip to Fairbanks. For more information on the convention, visit: nativefederation.org.
Contact: Benjamin Mallot, Alaska Federation of Natives
Photo credit: Alaska Federation of Natives
3. Alaska Day celebrates 50 years of Alaska Marine Highway System
Alaska Day, celebrated annually on Oct. 18, marks the official transfer of land from Russia to the United States in 1867. The purchase took place in Sitka, which was a bustling Russian colony at the time. During Russian rule in the 1800s, it was the largest city on the continent's west coast, an affluent center of commerce known as "Paris of the Pacific." The colony had multiple claims to fame, including being the home of the first weather observatory, established in 1832, and a shipyard that launched the first ship from what would become the U.S. West Coast, built in 1806. In 2013, the celebration in Sitka will be themed around the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Marine Highway System and will feature a trivia contest on the marine highway on Oct.. 16, an open house aboard the M/V Taku at the Sitka Ferry Terminal on Oct. 17. Then, on Oct. 18, a float consisting of a replica of the FVF Fairweather will travel from Swan Lake to Lincoln Street and Totem Square as part of the official Alaska Day parade and transfer ceremony. The transfer ceremony consists of a re-enactment of lowering the Russian flag and raising of the American flag at Castle Hill, a state historic site originally occupied by Tlingit natives and later Russian colonists. The weeklong event kicks off on Oct. 11, with scheduled events including foot races, kayak races, museum openings, a barn dance, cultural food tastings, a variety show, music and dance performances and much more. For event details, visit: alaskadayfestival.org.
Contact: Tonia Rioux, Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo credit: Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau
4. The year of the aurora borealis
Each year, travelers flock to Alaska in hopes of seeing lights dancing in the night sky - the aurora borealis. Alaska is looking forward to another spectacular year of aurora viewing (youtu.be/hsMW7zbzsUs) during the 2013-14 aurora season, the timeframe between Aug. 21 and April 21 when the northern lights are most visible. The state is home to a variety of lodges and tour operators that assist guests with locating optimal northern lights viewing areas for dazzling sightings of hues of green, red and purple streaming across the sky. Bettles Lodge, located in Bettles in Alaskaâ€™s Far North region, boasts some of the clearest skies, producing crisp, clear nights and optimal opportunities to see the aurora borealis. In addition to northern lights tours, the Bettles Lodge offers guests the option of staying at its Aurora Lodge, a cabin that is located on a small lake two miles from the main lodge and accessible by snowshoe, skis or drop off by lodge staff (). Chena Hot Springs Resort, located 60 miles outside of Fairbanks, is also under an active solar band and, with the help of a colder climate, produces many clear nights for aurora viewing. The resort boasts an â€œaurora wake-up callâ€ to alert guests when the northern lights are active, and it also features snow coach tours that take guests to the top of a nearby ridge for unobstructed views of the northern lights from the comfort of a yurt (). Based in Fairbanks, Northern Alaska Tour Company offers a unique way to see the aurora borealis with a variety of tours that include flightseeing and driving to and from the Arctic Circle as well as overnight stays at Coldfoot, a remote, premier location for viewing the northern lights ().
Contact: Jennifer Thompson, Thompson & Co. Public Relations
Photo credit: State of Alaska tourism office