Juneau's Gold Rush Days celebrate more than a century of mining history

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gold Rush Days offer a weekend of events that celebrate what this town was built on.

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"We say the streets are paved with gold," said Gold Rush Commission President Jerry Harmon.

He pointed out that many local roads were built on mine tailings, which still contain traces of ore.

Gold Rush Days pay tribute to the roles mining and logging played in the formation of Juneau.

The 18th annual Gold Rush Days will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Dimond Park in the Mendenhall Valley.

Mining competitions will be held all day Saturday, and the logging competitions will be held on Sunday.

"I'm a miner, so for me mining is near and dear to my heart," commission member Meg Day said.

Event information

Dimond Park, 9.a.m.- 5 p.m.

Saturday: mining competitions.

Sunday: logging competitions.

See insert in Friday edition of Juneau Empire for detailed schedule of events.

Plenty of tourists will be watching.

"We've had as many as 10,000 people show up on Saturday and Sunday," Harmon said. For local folks, it's more than just a show.

"It means something to me," Day said. "Some folks, especially the mining community, the folks that work in the industry, really connect with the mining competition because it is our livelihood."

Men, women and kids from around Southeast Alaska will compete for top honors in a variety of events over the weekend. They include log rolling, ax throwing, wood chopping and many others.

"They're going to put on one of the best shows you'll see anywhere in Alaska," Harmon said.

Day, a former competitor, advised paying attention to the women's events as well as the men's.

"We're seeing more and more women coming on board and competing," she said.

Registration for the events is open in the mornings before competition begins, she said.

Even though mining has eclipsed logging as an industry in Southeast Alaska, the logging events seem to attract more spectators, Harmon said.

"Climbing up a poll and rolling in the water seems to attract a lot of people," Day said.

Gold Rush Days also will have a variety of food vendors, as well as carnival games and rides for children on both Saturday and Sunday.

Assembly member Sara Chambers is scheduled to perform the national anthem to open the competition at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The annual event is held near the Fourth of July in part to commemorate miners who used to gather with their families for the holiday in the territorial days, Day said.

"That is what we're really trying to resurrect - that heritage in our community," she said.

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