More fun than sun for Summer Solstice events

Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Those windy spring rains seem to have finally caught up to the Kenai Peninsula as multiple summer solstice activities were dampened over the weekend. For the first time since Sam Best created the famous Best/Rotary Summer Solstice Scramble golf tournament, participants had to finish in the rain. But finish they did in the land of the midnight mist with the team of Doug Schoessler taking this year's first place honors out of the eight teams that signed up. Best started the Midnight Scramble 24 years ago to mark his anniversary and since then has become the grandfather of solstice celebrations on the Peninsula. "For Alaskans the solstice has been a special event through out history so we started the Rotary Midnight Scramble and it's become a trademark of the solstice celebrations on the Peninsula," said Best.

Another traditional event to celebrate the longest day of the year is the KDLL Summer Solstice Music Festival now in its 8th year at the Diamond M Ranch Resort. KDLL general manager and event organizer Allen Auxier said attendance was down a bit this year due to the weather, but those that attended had more to do than ever before. For the first time the Woodstock like event was held in the Diamond M pasture, "We decided that since we were doing construction to upgrade our RV park to be the best facility on the Peninsula that we'd try out the pasture this year where we even created a new lake for kids to kayak and boat in during the festival while learning kayaking skills and boating safety. John Steckel built that and its 40ft X 80ft, 40,000 gallon artificial pond, just a fantastic idea that has been super popular with the kids here. It's a fund raising project for the B&B Association as well as a water and boating safety learning opportunity. It's portable and can be set up at variable locations throughout the summer," said Blair Martin.

While rain dampened the golf tournament at Birch Ridge and the Solstice Music Festival, the sun shined all day out in Nikiski and a large crowd turned out for the Family Fun in the Midnight Sun. According to Rachel Parra, Nikiski Recreational Center director and event organizer families in Nikiski look forward to the festival all year long, "It's a perfect time for the community to get out, shake off the winter rust and see people they haven't seen in a long time and of course we had numerous booths to keep everyone entertained and well fed, from the inflatable slide and jumping castle to volleyball and horseback rides, it was a great time this year," said Parra. "I look forward to it every year," said Jessica, a Nikiski grad and volunteer for the 2009 Nikiski Days, "It's been going on since before I was born and it's really fun now to be volunteering for the event and helping everyone have a fun time," she said. The event was sponsored by the Nikiski Fire Fighter's Assoc, Nikiski Fire Department, & North Peninsula Recreation Service Area.



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