Alaska Picnic returns to Yuma for 30th year

Started 30 years ago in Yuma, Ariz., as an informal get together for Alaska snowbirds, the annual Alaska Picnic has grown into an enormous annual party.

“We have people fly in from Alaska for the two days just for the picnic,” says Ruth Giles, who lives in Yuma and organizes the event with her husband, Rich. “People also come from Tucson, Oregon, Washington – from all over.”

The event is held each year on Feb. 14. The location is Yuma’s Henry Park Pavilion, which can accommodate the large group and provide room for the food and live band.

Originally a king salmon feed, the event has grown too big for that, Giles said. “We got up to 850 people one year, and it’s too much to get the salmon down here – storing and cooking got to be a problem.”

Now, the menu is potluck-style, with everyone asked to bring a favorite side dish. Chicken, lemonade, beer and music are provided. Registration cost is $5 per person, which helps cover the cost of the park rental, insurance and live band. Registration also includes a special commemorative badge. These have become collector items over the years Giles said.

“A lot of people have collected all 30 of them.”

Last year, 380 people came for the picnic, Giles said, adding that she believes there is only one remaining original picnic founder – Janet Kincaid, who lives in Palmer.

Registration at the park begins at 10 a.m. and the party continues throughout the day.

For more information, call Dick or Ruth Giles in Yuma at 928-305-6418.

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