Members of the Krewe of Gambrinus march down Pioneer Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 during the Winter Carnival Parade in Homer, Alaska. (Homer News file photo)

Members of the Krewe of Gambrinus march down Pioneer Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 during the Winter Carnival Parade in Homer, Alaska. (Homer News file photo)

Homer’s annual Winter Carnival on deck

The ever popular Homer Winter Carnival is back, and the weather warmed up just in time.

This year’s carnival hosted by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center celebrates “50 years of winter wilderness,” and coincides with the 50th anniversary of Kachemak Bay State Park.

According to the chamber’s schedule, festivities kick off Thursday with the Winter Carnival Basketball Tournament hosted at Homer High School. Homer’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will spend the weekend facing off against teams from Galena, King Cove and Kotzebue. Thursday games are at 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday games run at the same time, while the Saturday games are at 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

On Friday, catch the screening of the film “The Wild” at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center starting at 6 p.m. This screening is hosted by Cook Inletkeeper and Sail Back to the Bay, a project aiming to celebrate maritime history by sailing a renovated Bristol Bay boat from Homer to Naknek in July. You can attend the screening to hear updates about the project and enjoy some salmon chowder as well. Admission is free and donations will be accepted.

Things really start to ramp up on Saturday, when community members can catch the annual Winter Carnival Parade as it makes its way down Pioneer Avenue starting at noon. Prizes will be given out to the best floats and presentations.

Just after the parade, you can head over to Beluga Lake for more winter fun to watch Ice Racing hosted by the Homer Ice Racing Association. This is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., or whenever the parade ends, and is free to spectators.

You might need to warm up a bit after all that time outside. Luckily, there’s another film screening scheduled at Islands and Ocean. Head over to the visitor center at 2:30 p.m. to see the documentary “Arctic Daughter.” Admission is free.

Not to be outdone, Alice’s Champagne Palace will once again host the Cranium Cup Challenge. This is a night of trivia, fun and prizes starting at 6 p.m. You can register your team of no more than six people at the door or at Proceeds from the trivia night go to the Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club.

Burnt Down House will wrap up the evening with a performance at the Alibi Bar and Cafe. at 9:30 p.m. There’s no cover to see them.

Ice Racing returns on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., again on Beluga Lake, followed by WYNNter Sunday FUNday out at the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Drive from 2-4 p.m. Kevin Bell Ice Arena will have a free open skate from 4:30-6 p.m., hosted by NOMAR.

The weekend of fun culminates in the first ever Chili Challenge from 5-7:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, which is celebrating 50 years of ministry in Homer. This is your chance to taste all different varieties of chili made my locals. It costs $10 for individuals and $30 for families. Call 907-235-7600 to submit your own chili entry.

Throughout the weekend, Land’s End Resort is offering free room upgrades on their Getaway Package. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, AJ’s Old Town Stakehouse is entering any patron who dines there between 4-5 p.m. into a raffle to win a $50 gift card.

For more information on the Winter Carnival, contact the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center at 907-235-7740.

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