Traveling the Funny River Road wasn’t very funny 25 years ago when the first Funny River Chamber of Commerce Community Association Festival was inaugurated. It was a bumpy, dusty trip but in the end was a slice of pioneer America and a community bound together by the Alaskan spirit. “As in most small communities, our festival began by a few Funny River homesteaders organizing together and planning a fun day for the children. As time has gone by our festival has grown, as has our community,” said the co-chair of the anniversary festival Rose Scott. When the road was paved in 1991, you guessed it the parade theme was; “Paving the Way!” said Scott, “This year our theme was Forget-Me-Not Funny River Alaska and our logo was a forget-me-not wreath encircling a caribou head.”
This year’s festival had something for everyone and drew visitors from as far away as Hickory, North Carolina. “We’re here with a Lutheran youth group and having a ball and enjoying the cool weather,” said 16-year-old Ashley Jonas, who competed in the traditional horseshoe tournament. The festivities began with the Soldotna VFW Post, presenting the colors and gun salute, which was followed by a parade, food, games, no frills dinner, pancake breakfast, auction, quilt raffle, and tournaments in golf, nickels, and cribbage. “We also had folks from the community who sold their crafts and products. Fun was had by all. Of course, we wouldn’t be as successful without the generous support we receive from our Soldotna merchants, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, Kenai as well as from our Funny River residents,” added Scott.
For the last ten years, The Country Crafters have made a quilt, which has become one of the festival’s major fundraising activities. This year, the Country Crafters and the Thread Benders made the quilt that was raffled. Richard Mendenhall from Sterling bought the lucky ticket and won the beautiful piece of art. The proceeds from the Funny River Festival are used to maintain the community center and fund community events such as a Memorial Day gathering and a Christmas Party for the children. “Our annual festival always takes place the weekend following Soldotna Progress Days. We look forward to seeing you next year, as planning for our 26th annual festival is already underway,” concluded Scott.
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