Summer Solstice on the Peninsula... Fun in the liquid sun

The longest day of the year might have also been the wettest, cloudiest day of 2014, as a myriad of community events got washed out or revelers decided to celebrate the summer solstice at home. Not so at the third annual Mud Run hosted by New Beginnings Fitness Center in Nikiski to benefit the American Cancer Society, where nearly 50 runners started the course in the heavy rain. “Every year gets a little better and it’s always a lot of fun, the heavy rain simply made the whole course a mud run rather than the just the pits which this year featured some real sticky drilling type muds. We wanted runners to get stuck up in the pits this year and mother nature just gave us a helping hand,” said event organizer Whitney Hitchcock, a trainer at New Beginnings. First to finish the course and winning his second straight Mud Run was Mike Crawford, finishing the race with a flying summersault into the finish line pit.

Meanwhile the 10th Anniversary of the Frontier Community Services (FCS) World Series of Baseball was called due to rain, but over 100 FCS consumers who signed up to play ball were not disappointed as they put the “ball” into baseball and rather than running bases had a fun feed of hamburgers and hotdogs and fresh barbequed sockeye salmon donated by Snug Harbor and Pacific Star Seafoods and grilled to perfection by the father daughter team Julie and Leon Marcinkowski. All the players went home with trophies. “It was a great day!” said event organizer Kathy Kenner, “I had fun and actually laughed on the way home Saturday. What do you do when Mother Nature is on the mound and throws you a curve ball? We folks at FCS can certainly think on our feet quickly! Years of experience, but we’ll be looking for the sunshine and to be able to play ball next year,” she said.

Meanwhile out at Nikiski Days it was “Family Fun in Midnight liquid Sun!” And with all the fresh green grass and playground equipment the community turn-out was as strong as ever. “We live here, we play here and most folks in Nikiski we don’t really care if it’s raining or the sun is shining if there is something to do we turn out and just take the weather as it comes,” said Speaker of the House Mike Chenault who says he has been coming to the event since he was a little boy and was glad to see new families moving into the community as a result of the resurgence of the oil and gas industry, “The future is looking bright and it’s to see that what we’ve done in the legislature is helping the community and providing the jobs and training folks need to provide a future for their families,” said Chenault.

The City of Kenai had a place for folks to get out of the rain as they hosted an open house at the new city shop off Marathon Rd. The only one who had to be out in the rain was city manager Rick Koch who was making the free hamburgers and hotdogs for visitors. Shop foreman Randy Parrish said, “We use to have to take some of the big equipment apart before we could get it into the old shop for repairs, but our new building is 18,000 sq. ft. compared to the 4,000 sq. ft. shop that we were previously in. This facility will make everything more efficient,” he said.

Which brings us to the 4-H Summer Solstice Music Festival which has been held at the Diamond M Ranch & Resort for the last three years, the event that was undoubtedly hurt the worst by the continual rain. The free music festival put on to benefit and promote local 4-H programs had the lowest turnout since they took over the event according to Jason Floyd, the 4-H director for UAA Fairbanks. “We had about 1,250 folks come out in the rain and that was only half the crowd we had last year, but we broke even thanks to our sponsors and everyone had a good time thanks to all our volunteers and the Christian Motorcycle Club that took care of the parking concession, the bands were the best ever and Tina of Tina’s Hairpros was a great emcee. No sour grapes as a good time was had by all and those who came stayed longer than in years past. Our eyes are on the future and 4-H will have some exciting things to announce by the first of the year about next year’s 4-H event,” said Floyd.