Heidi Zemach for SCN
Moose Pass Solstice Festival started off the weekend Saturday with healthy, happy crowds, plenty of food and music, and the possibility of two-days without rain-a rarity for the annual community festival. Craft and food vendors came from within the community and without.
New this year was a petting zoo filled with baby animals that young children could pat, hold, and feed. Local area farm types contributed their baby lambs, goats, chicks, bunnies and guinea pigs.
Olive James, of Cooper Landing, sat with a guinea pig called Moose on her lap. She was so satisfied that she didn’t want to venture out into the rest of the festival.
Willow Langunbrunner, a two-year old Clam Gulch resident clearly felt the same way about the chick she held and fondled.
A couple of young culinary students working in Cooper Landing this summer borrowed their employer’s van, cooked up some home-made cookies, and served their own delicious ice-cream sandwich concoction.
The Sturman family from Soldotna decided at the last minute to come over to Moose Pass to sell their kettle corn, and gather signatures for an anti-tax petition.
“This is really good for the kids,” said Cathy Sturman, as the girls Jaida, Carly and Caitlin bagged up the corn their mom mixed up, and sold them to customers. “They’re saving up for Disneyland.”
It seemed as though practically the entire community, or at least all of the women, and a good deal of their children baked desserts including Rhubarb Baklava, all sorts of muffins, lemon cake, chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting, and more. And if they hadn’t done any baking, the men folk were recruited to cook up the barbecued bratwurst, polish dogs and halibut tacos.
My own favorite discovery was to be found at booth that baked sweet corn in their husks. It was Jalapenos stuffed with salmon and cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and served still hot on a stick!
Dave and Lana Scanlan, of Hope, showcased their psychedelic tie-die shirts and hoodies from their business Glacier Dyeworks, some with interesting animal faces magically appearing in the patterns. Their booth will be in downtown Seward for the July 4th Mount Marathon Race days.
Coach Curtis Berry was helping to raffle off a handsome green four-wheeler to raise funds for the high school basketball program. It’s an experiment that he hopes will pay off. The raffle for that will continue over the upcoming Independence Day weekend. Meanwhile, the Moose Pass community also had a silent auction and its own raffle, with prizes such as $500, a bronze art piece and a bowie knife.
Crowds filled the beer garden in front of the stage to enjoy live bands, including Hurricane Dave, Mellissa Mitchell, and Tammy Whynot. The entertainment, featuring some jazz, continues tomorrow.
“It’s excellent, it appears to be a high average year,” said Moose Pass resident Ben Ikerd, noting the sunny weather and the good turnout. He hoped the weather would continue for a second day, as the sun brings out more people.
This was Moose Pass community’s 35th annual Solstice Festival, he explained. It’s sponsored by the Moose Pass Sportsmen’s Club and is the main fundraising event for that small rural community. The festival provides funding to keep up the community hall, volunteer fire department for the rest of the year, and allows them to fund three major community celebrations: Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The idea of the solstice festival is credited to the late Jack Taylor, who thought having one big event for everything would be better than a patchwork of small fundraisers throughout the year, said Ikerd. The sportsmen’s club has a long tradition in the community, and it was once the only social service organization there. It once focused on providing gun safety, hunter training and marksmanship skills at a time when most families harvested a moose every year, Ikerd said. But even then, as now, it also was the place that locals called upon when they needed help with snow plowing, or meeting other needs.