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Every July, Fairbanks hosts the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) in celebration of traditional Native Alaskan heritage. Through games, competitions and dances, people from all over the world come together to commemorate and participate in the region’s unique culture. This year, the 47th annual WEIO Games will take place July 16-19 and proffer more than 50 events.
All WEIO competitions test skills and strengths which are necessary for survival in the harsh and often unforgiving Alaskan climate. The games hold a fish-cutting competition, a greased pole walk and a two-foot high kick game, which originates from fisherman in coastal villages signaling the catch of a whale; all competitions exemplify the practical and spirited atmosphere of the games.
Likewise, the Indian dress and dance competition offers another aspect of Native Alaskan culture. Competitors, clad in moose-hide dresses and vests, moccasins and traditional kuspuk parkas, perform historical songs and dances, which end with a performance by the winners on the last night of the four-day event.
Along with the games, visitors have the opportunity peruse authentic Alaska Native crafts and learn about the area’s Gold Rush heritage at the annual Golden Days celebration, which coincides.
Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau800-327-5774www.explorefairbanks.com