Celebrating a special Alaska Day milestone
October 1, 2017
Every year, Sitka hosts the Alaska Day Festival, and 2017’s theme, "Sesquicentennial of the Treaty of Cession," marks the 150th anniversary of the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States on Oct. 18, 1867.
Starting Oct. 10, official greeters dressed in 1860s garb will greet visitors at the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport.
“We’re expecting more tourists this year,” said Ted Allio, chairman of the Alaska Day Festival Committee. “We have a new hotel, so there’s plenty of room for people to visit.”
This year’s festivities include everything from the annual Alaska Day Ball to performances by the Seattle Firefighters Pipes and Drums, who fly in from Seattle just for the festival, Allio said.
“This year we have more presentations and panel discussions leading up to Alaska Day for the sesquicentennial,” he said. “The presentations are mainly done by the National Park Service and the historical society. On Oct. 17 we’re also having a panel discussion regarding this year’s theme of the Treaty of Cession. Three Russian scholars, two Alaska Native leaders and an American historian and a moderator make up that panel.”
Another highlight is the New Archangel Dancers, performing on Oct. 13 at the Harrigan Centennial Hall.
“That one’s good for the ladies that like Russian dance,” Allio said. “Some ladies dress up in costumes. The locals that perform have even traveled to Russia for competitions.”
Alaska Day itself is kicked off with the military memorial services at 11 a.m. and is followed by the Alaska Day parade at 1:30 p.m. and the annual transfer reenactment ceremony at 2:30 p.m. However, the pie sale at the Sitka Lutheran Church is also popular, notes Allio.
“You must get to the pie sale before the parade is over,” he cautioned. “There’s also a great chili cook-off at St. Gregory Catholic Church as well.”
For a full schedule of events, visit http://www.alaskadayfestival.org.