Plug pulled on Anchorage's Fur Rondy

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2006

ANCHORAGE - Organizers of Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous are pulling the plug on the 72-year-old winter festival.

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Turning in their resignations Wednesday were Susan Duck, event coordinator, and Bo Brownfield, president of Greater Anchorage Inc., the nonprofit that puts on the festival. Event staffers, including executive director Mary Pignalberi, have been laid off.

Pignalberi was notified a month ago in accordance with her contract.

Around that time, Brownfield spoke about re-energizing the festival, and the mayor's office announced plans to work with the organizers to update the event's marketing and combine it more directly with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Tour of Anchorage Ski Race.

"We've been working with them, but the structure of their event has to be fully retooled, as shown by attendance and sponsors," Mayor Mark Begich said.

It came down to money in the end.

This year's Fur Rondy ran $110,000 over its $800,000 budget, partly because of the loss of big sponsors NAPA Auto Parts and Alaska Communications Systems. The municipality denied a request for a $50,000 bailout.

"We're always in debt somewhat," Brownfield said. However, he said, the group has been able to

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