History group, old-timers meet

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Hundreds of old-timers and history buffs will converge here this week for two conventions. The Pioneers of Alaska and the Alaska Historical Society will each meet Thursday through Saturday.

''This is unusual,'' said Phyllis Movius, an organizer for the historical society convention.

The organizations chose Fairbanks for their annual gatherings because it's a landmark year for the town. A hundred years ago, Felix Pedro struck gold, putting Fairbanks on the map.

The Alaska Historical Society's activities will occur mainly at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel. The Pioneers' home base will be Pioneer Park, formerly Alaskaland.

About 120 historians and history buffs from across Alaska are expected at the Alaska Historical Society convention. Presentation topics include Quonset huts, historical development of the Chena riverfront and Sgt. William Yanert, who mapped Alaska in the late 1800s.

At the much larger Pioneers of Alaska convention, about 350 to 400 people are expected from across the state.

''A lot of it is social,'' organizer Susan Kalen said of the activities planned.

Business meetings, where members discuss the group's treasury and make decisions about political issues affecting seniors, are closed to the public. The rest is open.

Men's and women's lunches are scheduled for Thursday afternoon, a ball where participants dress in period clothing is planned for Friday night, and a grand banquet is scheduled for Saturday. Tours of local landmarks and a visit to the Pioneers' Home are also planned.

John Miscovich, a local miner, is the main speaker at Saturday's Pioneers of Alaska grand banquet.

The pioneers group is composed of those who have lived in Alaska 30 years or longer. Members range in age from 35 to 97, but most Alaska Pioneers are in their 60s and 70s.

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