Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. This weekend marks the 54th anniversary of the Anchor Point Snow Rondi, a festival with close ties to the Homer Winter Carnival.
If you thought the fun was over with the Homer Winter Carnival, think again. This weekend Homer’s nearby neighbor to the north, Anchor Point, invites the public to keep the party going with Snow Rondi 2014, a celebration that actually grew out of the Homer Winter Carnival.
The event was originally known as the “Anchor Point Snow Festival.” It owes its beginning to sled dog racing, according to programs provided by Anchor Point resident Stan Harrington.
“Organized racing for Anchor River teams started in 1957 at the Homer Winter Carnival with Bill Brody, Lefty Howard, Inez Clendenen, Darrel Koch and Larry Clendenen putting on the first race, racing again at Homer in 1958,” said an article in the 1962 program. “Interest had become so intense that the local mushers organized the Anchor River Sled Dog and Racing Association.”
Races were held on Sundays leading up to the Homer Winter Carnival, which was the high point of the racing season. In 1960, the carnival association moved the dog racing to Anchor Point due to lack of snow in Homer.
That same year, as an example of just how popular racing was in the area, Bob Quick of Ninilchik bet Bill “Wild Bill” Brody that he could beat Brody in a road race. Wayne Bishop, original owner of the Inlet View Cabins and Café in Ninilchik, provided the trophies, the Anchor River Sled Dog and Racing Association officiated and its members also entered the race. The 22-mile course was the Sterling Highway from Anchor Point to Ninilchik.
Neither Quick nor Brody were first to cross the finish line. Instead, Joe Brandon, sponsored by Homestead Supply of Anchor Point, took first place.
Quick managed to finish the race. Losing his team early in the race and then eventually reunited with it, Brody carried the red lantern.
Harrington, who grew up in Homer and moved to Anchor Point in 1987, recalled that the Anchor Point Sled Dog and Racing Association was “one of the strongest associations on the Kenai Peninsula for sled racing.” The events it sponsored drew such big-name racing legends as George Attla, Gareth Wright and Doc Lombard.
Over the years, the winter festivities’ focus shifted away from racing.
“There were a lot of people who just used their dogs for transportation,” said long-time Anchor Point resident Mary Perry, whose family had sled dogs, but didn’t participate in the races.
“Once that went away, people quit keeping all those dogs. It was more expense than they could maintain for a dog race once a year.”
Al Poindexter, who came to Anchor Point in 1962, recalled how the winter event grew to include more activities.
“It always had some sort of weird little parade,” said Poindexter.
“Back in the day it was mostly ski and snowshoe races, dog team races, weight-pulling contests. I don’t think we did snowshoe baseball until about the mid-70s or 80s. And then we added ice bowling somewhere in the mid-90s. And we used to always have an outhouse race, too.”
Jesse Clutts, who came to Anchor Point as a youngster in 1984, remembered participating in one of those outhouse races, which began at the Anchor River Inn, continued south along the Old Sterling Highway, across the Anchor River Bridge, turned around and returned to the Anchor River Inn.
“Someone who was a handyman built our first outhouse and it was heavy and it was rugged,” said Clutts. “It looked really nice, but boy, it killed you pulling that thing up the hill.”
Like the Homer Winter Carnival of days gone by, Anchor Point’s celebration also included a queen pageant. Clutts’s wife, Jennifer, reigned as queen in the early 1990s when she was a high school senior.
The Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce eventually took over sponsorship of the winter festival. During the early 1990s, while Harrington was serving on the chamber of commerce’s board of directors, the chamber focused on infusing the carnival with renewed energy.
While dog racing is no longer a part of the program, the popular Sunday afternoon dog show draws a canine-loving crowd. As a fundraiser for the Homer Animal Shelter, it brings to mind the decades-long connection this Anchor Point event has with Homer.
The theme for Anchor Point Snow Rondi 2014 is “slip and slide at the Rondi.” It kicks off at the VFW Post 10221, at 7 p.m. today, with the Snow Rondi auction and the auction of pool players that will participate in the Friday tournament. The fun continues through Sunday.
Now, as when it got started, the mid-winter festival plays an important role for Anchor Point.
“It’s just the unity of the community, a social time in the middle of winter and it adds a little more to the businesses,” said Harrington.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Slip and slide at the Rondi’
Anchor Point Snow Rondi 2014
Sponsored by the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce
Tentative schedule of events Feb 20 – 23
7 p.m. Snow Rondi auction, VFW Post 10221
7 p.m. Pool-player auction, VFW Post 10221
6:30 p.m. Movie night, Chapman school, children need to be accompanied by an adult
7 p.m. Pool tournament, VFW Post 10221
9-11 a.m. Community breakfast, Anchor Point Senior Center
10:30 a.m. Parade, line up at Petro at 10 a.m.
Noon-3 p.m. Meet and greet Chief Jim Dycus, Anchor Point Fire Station
Following the parade at Chapman School:
11 a.m. Pinewood derby, weigh-in 10 a.m.
11:30 a.m. Ski biathlon, end of School Street
11:45 a.m. Snowshoe biathlon, end of School Street
Noon Adult archery and turkey shoot
12:30 p.m. Youth ski race, end of School Street
1 p.m. Hockey slap shot
2 p.m. Youth archery
2:30 p.m. Snowshoe race,
end of School Street
2:45 p.m. Team ski and sled pull, end of School Street
3:15 p.m. Al Garbe kids coin hunt (ages 0-10)
3:30 p.m. Kids snow shoe toss
4 p.m. Ax man contest
7 p.m. Community awards banquet, VFW Post 10221
9-11 a.m. Community breakfast, Anchor Point Senior Center
10 a.m. Gun safety meeting, gun range
11 a.m. Mountain Man Classic, gun range
1-4 p.m. Snowmachine activities, Griner Pit
2 p.m. Dog show, Chapman School
4 p.m. Community fish fry, VFW Post 10221