Willow Winter Carnival Packs Them In
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The Borealis Dancers entertained
the crowd on Saturday, Feb. 3,
2007. There was some clogging,
1920's style dancing and more.
By John R. Moses
WILLOW Feb. 3 -- They ate burgers and ribs, roared off on snow
machines and tossed cordless phones at a can buried in a mound
of snow. There were some chainsaws involved as well. Visitors to
Willow's annual Winter Carnival weekends competed, shopped and
also brought in yet-untallied thousands of dollars for the Willow
The late January and early February extravaganza is the Willow
Area Community Organization’s (WACO's) biggest fund raiser. The
46-year-old event was started as a way to blow off some steam in
the winter months, and from the 2007 totals so far, that need is
“From the numbers that I’m looking at it was very successful for
raising money for the community,” said WACO Treasurer Bill
Mailer. He was busy yesterday adding up the receipts for the board
There was no admission charge so there’s no telling how many
attended, but parking fees of $1 per vehicle raised $1,067, he
said. Snow machiners, however, arrived by other means, and
many paid fees to partake in radar time trials on the frozen lake
behind the community center.
Organizers of the snow machine radar run noted during Saturday’s
event that many snow machiners went through the time trials
The 2007 Winter Carnival featured contests of skill and
opportunity drawings, as well as an indoor Trade Fair that drew
crafters and others from across the state.
Then there was the Dog Weight Pull, which started at noon
Saturday. Dogs competed by pulling more than 1,000 pounds on a
sled from an icy patch across the snowy competition area.
Sometimes the sleds got a helpful start from competition
organizers, who made sure sled runners were not fused to the ice
But it wasn’t just about the animals. Humans ran in the Frostbite
5K Running Race. There was also a chess tournament, a kick Sled
race, a chainsaw competition and a Fun Ski Race Saturday.
On the Willow Community Center stage were acts like Just Plain
Jazz, and later the lively Borealis Dancers.
At night there was the Talent or Not Show that brought in $959,
the treasurer, Mailer, said. “The parking lot was packed.”
The final Sunday saw Denali Cheer and a Pie and Dessert Auction
as well as outside events like the Paul Bunyan Wood Chopping,
Axe Throw contest.
A former head of the WACO board who was also a salsa vendor in
the Trade Show, said he had no complaints about the money he
made – this was his second-best year financially. But as far as the
festival, “It was basically boring. Other than that, we took in a lot
of money. There was a lot of comradeship,” said Larry “Jake”
Jacobson said the idea of the carnival is to get people together
inside and out and to have a lot of events for the kids. Saturday,
Feb 3, he said, was the best day for events and entertainment. He
found the event as a whole “lacking in community spirit” compared
to past carnivals and devoid of decorations.
Jacobson oversaw the Matanuska Telephone Association-
sponsored “Telephone Toss” contest, where folks paid $1 to lob
cordless handsets into a can set deep in the snow.
That event alone raised more than $100 for WACO, although he
doesn’t know exactly how much was raised. He got the idea for
that contest five years ago while in Helsinki, where he saw Nokia
hold a phone-throwing contest with a new phone as the prize.
No one won this year’s toss, but he did give out one consolation
There has been political discord within the WACO community, he
noted. He credited new WACO board chair Linda Oxley with doing
“a hell of a job in a year. That’s what this place needs, some new
Oxley could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Final event tallies will eventually be posted on the organization’s
Web site, said WACO Secretary Pat Madigan. Go to www.waco.ak.
org for more carnival information.
UPDATE: The carnival raised more than $19,200. Event results are
MTA Phone Toss
MTA Phone Toss