We headed for Talkeetna to participate in the Moose Droppings Festival on the weekend. It is a cute little town, originating in the Gold Rush days, along the merging of three glacial rivers: the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeena rivers. It was the site for riverboat steamers that brought supplies to the miners. In 1916 they built the railroad from Seward to Fairbanks and the town grew to 1,000 and by 1923 the population decreased. A highway wasn’t built to connect it to the main highway until 1964. Now the town is a base for mountaineers seeking to climb Mt. McKinley and a destination for fishing, hunting, rafting and other outdoor activities.
Nowadays they have shops with arts and crafts from local artisans as well as the normal funny tourist things. There are “decorated” wooden Moose statues all around town which are auctioned off at the Moose Droppings Festival for some community charities.
The activity that the Festival is named for is conducted by the V.F.W. in town. They collected Moose droppings and painted them white and then painted double sets of numbers on them. They sell one with a safety pin attached and its matching number goes in a bag. You pay $5 apiece to bet how close your number will fall to the target. There were over 3,000 pieces sold this weekend. Part of the money is for the prizes of the game, then 1/3 goes to the V.F.W. and the rest goes to a couple other charities in the community.
On Saturday evening everyone gathered at the V.F.W. parking lot. The bag of numbered droppings was hoisted high over the parking lot where a big red X was painted on the ground. When they pulled the string and all the Moose droppings “dropped” and scattered, there was a lot of cheering. Then they measured the distance from the center of the X to the closest “dropping” and called out its number, and the owner of the corresponding number claimed their cash prize. There were several cash prizes for the next several closest droppings. Then they found the one that was the farthest away. I remember that person won $300 and it was the end of the game. We found our former travel mates, Stan & Carol, in the crowd (didn’t know they were there) and Carol had bought two, but didn’t win anything. As the saying goes, “A fun time was had by all”.
While there we there we ran across and visited with some Escapees Club members that we have been following on the Escapees Blog, Andy and Diane Hitzel and Tom, Deb and Jonathan Smythe. It was nice to put faces to the names.