Except for the You Know What, this summer is turning out to be awesome. We’ve had a pretty good run of sunny weather nicely balanced by rain that politely falls in the middle of the week. We haven’t had any major wildfires in Southcentral Alaska (knock on wood) and the road construction has been only moderately disruptive.
Of course, in the context of You Know What, it’s kind of like that punch line: “Well, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” The Big You Know What has put a damper on this summer. Yeah, it’s hard to have fun when going out involves masking up and being really aware of stuff like how close that coughing dude stands close to you at the grocery store.
The Betster is continually amazed at how resilient y’all have been. Saturday we celebrate the 244th anniversary of the founding of our nation. It wasn’t the most perfect birth, starting with the unpleasant fact that some of our Founding Fathers kept slaves. Liberty and justice for all has turned out to be a work in progress. Throughout the forging of our democratic ideals we’ve struggled with not just independence from Britain, but independence for all. Talk about resilience.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, paraphrasing the abolitionist minister Theodore Park, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Our imperfect founding as a nation can find redemption in our continual struggle to fulfill the hope in Dr. King’s vision, that some day we will all be able to hold hands together and sing, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God all mighty we are free at last.”
So enjoy our resiliency and our hope for a better nation with safe gatherings and barbecues, and the fellowship of friends. Parades have been canceled, but there’s still fun things to do — responsibly, please — with these Best Bets:
BEST ART AND ABOUT BET: Some of the local galleries hold First Friday receptions, but cautiously and with guidelines like wearing masks, practicing social distancing and limited occupancy. Other galleries will have new shows but not live receptions. In any case, there’s new art on the walls worth checking out. See page B1 for all the details.
BEST BUCKAROO BET: The Ninilchik Rodeo kicks off this weekend with events Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, starting with the Peninsula Horseman’s Association Barrel Race at 7 p.m. on Friday. Also Friday is the Ranch Rodeo Preliminary Round. New this year are the horse races on the Ninilchik Beach, which start at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Those races are followed by the Junior Rodeo Action, the Ninilchik Rodeo Kickoff and the Community Barbecue. On Sunday, Cowboy Church is at 9 a.m., followed by High School Rodeo at 10 a.m. and more Ninilchik Rodeo at 1 p.m. For the most up to date information, visit the Ninilchik Rodeo Facebook page.
BEST BARBECUE BET: The Homer Elks Lodge is holding its “Annual Fourth of July BBQ” at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 4. The lodge will provide food, drinks, games and fun for $20 per person, $25 per couple or $30 per family. For more information, call 907-235-2335.
BEST POWER BET: Solarize the Lower Peninsula is holding its final public info meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 8. If you’re thinking about going solar and you live in or south of Ninilchik on the road system, join Cook Inletkeeper and Ben May, owner of Alaska Solar, for a quick presentation about how to participate in Solarize. Come get your questions answered about the program and Alaska Solar’s approach. The last day to sign a contract and participate in the solarize program is August 1. Find the zoom link to attend at inletkeeper.org
BEST BETTER KNOW IN ADVANCE BET: The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is hosting the first ever Homer Peony Celebration commencing on Friday, July 10, and running for two weeks through Saturday, July 25. There are 25 Peony Farms from Anchor Point to Fritz Creek, two of which will be hosting guided farm tours: Alaska Perfect Peony and Joslyn Peonies. Alaska’s oldest Peony farm on the Shoultz Family Homestead near Fritz Creek, Alaska Perfect Peony will host tours on Fridays from 1-3 p.m.
Guests will leave with a fresh cut Peony bouquet. Joslyn Peonies will be hosting guided tours at her farm on Diamond Ridge Road on Saturdays from 3-5 p.m. Guests will stroll through the gardens and enjoy appetizers and refreshments in her exquisite special event venue. Homer Council on the Arts will be hosting a series of five workshops by local artists from Peony dying on silk scarves to Chinese Peony painting to making paper Peony bouquets and window decals. Registration is required with limited class sizes. Pratt Museum is scheduling a special Peony event. Art Shop Gallery will showcase local artist, Dan Coe and renowned Alaskan artist, Barbara Lavalle with original Peony paintings and prints.
For more information about additional businesses contributing events to the festival and about self guided tours, visit www.homeralaska.org and click on Peony Celebration or call the Visitor Center for information at 907-235-7740.