If the beautiful weather returns, this weekend might be the perfect time to relax and prepare for the excitement of the Fourth of July. Go hiking, take a walk around Twin Lakes, swing by Sandy Beach - Juneau's outdoor offerings are wonderful in June and July, and the lovely weather shouldn't be missed.
One good way to enjoy it is the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Run this Saturday. Runners meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Gold Creek Bridge on Basin Road. The race itself starts at 9 a.m.; it's been divided into three segments - two, four and seven miles. Runners pick the distance they'd like to go after they start off, then take a ribbon from the corresponding station to be included in the rankings for that leg of the race. Chuck or Charity Platt can be contacted at 789-6346 for more information. There is a small entry fee.
Juneau's 12th Annual Gold Rush Days takes place on Saturday and Sunday at Dimond Park. A schedule of events can be found in the Empire's Thursday pull-out section; numerous competitions - such as chopping, drilling and spike driving - will take place over the course of the weekend. This event is always energetic and fun, as competitors, merchants and visitors mingle, get muddy and watch events that celebrate Juneau's past. Things kick off with a pancake breakfast from 6 to 10 a.m. Saturday.
For those interested in spending some time inside, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's festival of short films sounds fascinating. The council will show Academy Award-winning or nominated short films that wouldn't ordinarily make it to Juneau; titles include "Old Man and the Sea," "Father and Daughter," "The Periwig Maker," "Quiero Ser" and "Seraglio." The films cover a wide range of subjects, lending a mood that blends humor and pathos, and some of them sound like virtual works of art. "Old Man and the Sea," which JAHC has wanted to show for some time, was composed entirely of 29,000 hand-painted frames on glass. I've seen several stills from the movie, and each one is a tiny work of art.
Juneau residents can catch the show at one of many times this weekend at the Nickelodeon Theater in the Emporium Mall. The films show tonight at 7 and 9, Saturday at 2, 4, 7 and 9 p.m. and Sunday at 2, 4 and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door; the cost is $7 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Funds go to support the JAHC's annual student concert series.
Another movie option is the Back Room Cinema's 9 p.m. Saturday showing of "In and Out," with Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. I've seen the film twice, and it remained laugh-out-loud funny even on the second viewing. Kline is hilarious as an engaged teacher "outed" by a former student, and the movie skewers a number of lingering prejudices and stereotypes about homosexuality.
A rain-or-shine option is the Tuesday, July 3 Contra Dance, which will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. in Centennial Hall. It's the last contra dance until Camp Damp kicks off in August, so would-be dancers will want to check it out. Contra dances are fun, low-pressure events, and though some of the steps can be difficult, no one will be upset if you make a mistake. There's also a half-hour of instruction beforehand where dancers can learn new skills or brush up on old ones.
Families might want to stop by the Majestic Shows Big Top Circus, which has set up camp in the Big Kmart parking lot and will run until Sunday. Juneau's had some dubious experiences with low-quality circuses in the past, but this one seems worth checking out, particularly for families with young children who will enjoy the spectacle. Acts include acrobats, clowns, jugglers and aerialists, with the Loyal Family Riding Troupe as a special draw. The show will play at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Friday, 11, 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 11, 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Adult tickets are on sale at the gate.
Moving into next week, the Hangar on the Wharf will host the Nomads, a surf band from Newport Beach, Calif., on Tuesday and Wednesday. It's a treat for the Fourth of July and the band sounds like fun. They're Orange County's oldest surf band, and have been playing together for years.