A ‘Beary’ Fun Friday! Critters Take Center Stage This Weekend

I'm sure this big guy is headed out for a fun weekend.

Bears are a major focus of our weekend plans, thanks to a big festival in Eagle River and a new tour option happening at a favorite family destination. This is AKontheGO’s last Fun Friday in Anchorage for a while as we pack up and head south to the Inside Passage for our two-week Alaska Marine Highway adventure. Trust us, though, to continue our commitment to Alaskan activities and events for the whole family on Fun Friday, with the help of Alaska Center for Pediatrics, our distinguished Fun Friday sponsor and friend to AK Fam.

Before we jump into the ‘beary’ cool events this weekend: HERE is the link to Tuesday’s Alaska Travelgram Show, with special guest Ethan Tyler from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Ethan will be guest-hosting the show on July 19, and we’re thinking he’ll do a fantastic job. Tuesdays, 2-3 p.m. on KOAN 95.5 fm for the Travelgram follies; that’s us.

Ta-dah! Without further ado, here is the lineup for our weekend of July 8, 2011. I can ‘bear-ly’ contain myself….

Little ones love to explore the outdoors; learn how to recreate safely at Moms, Pops, and Tots!

FRIDAY: Moms, Pops, and Tots at Campbell Creek Science Center begins at 10 a.m. inside the Center’s multipurpose room and moves outdoors to allow babies and small children, and their caregivers/parents an opportunity to get down and dirty. Plenty of time is allowed for bathroom breaks, snacks, and wiggle time! FREE, but do call ahead so instructors know how many little people to expect. 907-267-1247.

Music in the Park follows that wiggle time at noon down at 4th  Avenue’s Peratrovich Park in Anchorage. These concerts are a free hour of music for the whole family, and today’s musician is Joey Fender, with the Air Force Band of the Pacific on tap for next Friday. Bring a picnic, a jacket (it’s always chilly down there for some reason), and your dancing feet. FREE.

Bear Paw Festival 2011 is back! In its 26th year of entertaining and amusing the greater Anchorage/Eagle River area, Bear Paw is five days of old-fashioned family fun in Eagle River. Why not stop on by the Commons downtown for the Carnival rides, today’s Teddy Bear Tea and Parade, or catch the Grand Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday? Shuttles will transport folks from various points around town, check the festival’s website for all the ‘grizzly’ details. It’s a great festival, full of excitement and interesting events. Like that Ice Cream Eating contest.

Are you heading up to Talkeetna? More music awaits at the weekly Live at 5 Summer Concert Series from 5-7 p.m. at the Talkeetna Village Park Pavillion, right in beautiful downtown Talkeetna. Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy music hosted by the Denali Arts Council and Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce. FREE and great for the fam!

Now THAT'S a bear track! AK Kid explores the exhibit at Eagle River Nature Center.

SATURDAY: Bear talkin’ continues at Eagle River Nature Center, where naturalists will introduce kids K-6 to Bear Paws and Other Tracks at 2 p.m. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Bear Paw Festival and learn how to really identify animal tracks in Alaska. I guarantee hiking will never be the same again after this great class. FREE, but $5 parking for non-members. Most excellent fun for a Saturday afternoon, I say!

Grab your kids and head to popular Valley of the Moon Park from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. for the weediest war in the world! The Anchorage Weed Smackdown is  designed to take out those invasive plants that choke our streams and meadows and poison some of Alaska’s animals, and they need YOU. Oh, did I mention it’s a competition???? We’re in the running for Weed Warrior status against Kenai and Fairbanks, so arrive with gloves, sturdy shoes, long pants and shirts, and be ready for war. Call Allegra Hamer at info@weedwar.org, or call 441-7366. Lunch is provided.

Explore Alaska’s animals at the Museum of Natural History both FRIDAY and SATURDAY. Discover what evidence left behind (yes, poop too) can tell us about how animals live and thrive in our far northern climates. Self-guided tour, drop-in, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at their Bragaw facility. $5 entrance fee per child with accompanying adult. Call 274-2400. We love this place.  Love it.

A big brown bear chomps on a pumpkin at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, open all year for your wildlife-viewing enjoyment.

SUNDAY: Bear Paw festivities continue, of course, but Eagle River Nature Center has a special class about staying safe while hiking, and camping in bear country. Recreating in Bear Country begins at 2 p.m. at the Center with naturalist Doris Ivory teaching the behavior and biology of Alaska’s brown and black bruins, along with tips for recreating among them. FREE, but $5 parking for non-members.

For those AKontheGO’ers who may be heading north for some family vacation time, don’t forget to check out the wonderful website of our friends in Fairbanks! The Fairbanks CVB has a very comprehensive listing of events and activities all around the Interior, plus the lovely Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center is so worth an hour or so. Maybe even more than that. Find their listing of events HERE, and directions to the Center.

To round out our wonderful wild weekend, check out what’s now happening at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage! As our guest host Ethan Tyler told us during this week’s Alaska Travelgram Show, AWCC is now offering “Behind the Scenes” tours with interns at the center. See the bear cubs, cut up veggies for the moose, and maybe even convince Snickers the porcupine to wag his tail! It’s a family adventure well-worth the investment, and I’m just itching to get down there to experience it. Call the Center at  907-783-2025. There is an age limit, but for parents of older kids, this could be the bonding experience you’ve been waiting for. Yep.

Enjoy the weekend, happy trails and tails, my friends!

EK

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