By Stephanie Drescher
Special to the Glacier City Gazette
The arrival of berries, glistening in their tiny bunches as they dangle from obliging leaves, has always been a signal of the summit of summer. There are few regions in America that embrace summer the way Alaskans do. We know far too soon we will be shrouded in darkness, under a layer of white. We hit our brief summer hard, soaking it in like berry juice on a cotton t-shirt.
Perhaps this is why the Blueberry Festival is the most loved Alyeska festival, and why it routinely attracts the highest attendance. Last year approximately 7,000 participated. What started as a small gathering of locals with a love for berries has burst into Alaskans from all over the state, over 50 vendors, and topline musicians gathering to celebrate summer and the little but mighty blueberry.
Aug. 19 is the 10th anniversary of this juicy festival. In honor of this decade of celebration, Alyeska is on course to have the best Blueberry Festival to date with a sharp focus on music. The headliner for this festival is Alaska’s own Hope Social Club. Newcomer Jesse Meuse, who finished in fourth place on the 13th season of American Idol, will be performing all weekend long as well other musical acts include pianist Mario Carboni, Julia Issac, Chicago Farmer, Ava Earl Duo and Jessica Meuse.
As Alaska gets ready to celebrate a tradition, a new event is budding on the horizon that has the potential to also get firmly rooted in the community.
On Aug, 12, Alyeska is hosting the Cirque Series Discrete Run. This event is redefining what mountain running is all about. Mountain Marketing Manager, Ben Napolitano said, “this is a new type of mountain run taking place in a challenging and unique venue. It will take the competitors up to the top of Alyeska’s headwall and safely back down.”
The race will begin and end at the Sitzmark, its deck providing the perfect hang-out for finished runners to cheer on each other, wait for results and enjoy the mixings of DJ Cross. This is the first Cirque Series run to ever take place in Alaska.
The Discrete Run’s elevation is serious, but the mileage is manageable. The first to the finish line will enjoy legend status and cash prizes. Each competitor will receive a Cirque Series hat, raffle tickets, and a finisher medal. Over eighty daredevils and counting have currently signed up for the maiden launch of this event.
Alyeska will be embracing summer with open arms this August as traditions are continued and new events grow, not unlike the berry bushes on the hillside.