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Hawaiian and other Polynesian cultures have an ancient relationship with Alaska, and today Pacific Islanders comprise the largest growing ethnic community in Alaska. Anchorage alone has a Polynesian florist, various Hawaiian restaurants, and a handful of Samoan churches. If you look a little harder in some convenience stores, you’ll find the piece of culinary heaven brought to us from the south Pacific, the Hawaiian delicacy known simply as “musubi.”

A skier pulls a backflip into a pond at the Alyeska Slush Cup. Courtesy Ralph Kristopher, Alyeska Resort SALMON CULTURE EXHIBITION Celebrates connections between salmon and Alaska Native peoples and honors salmon as a resource that has nourished communities physically and spiritually for thousands of years. At the Anchorage Museum through September 2024. Visit: anchoragemuseum.org/exhibits/salmon-culture. ALASKA HUMMINGBIRD FESTIVAL Annual event begins April 5 with a juried art show and reception at the Southeast Discovery Center in Ketchikan. Exhibits, bird walks, talks, and more continue through April 27 to welcome the annual return of rufous hummingbirds. Contact Tongass National Forest: 907-228-6220. ALYESKA SPRING CARNIVAL April 19-21 at the Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood. Food trucks, live music, a costume contest, a tug-of-war into a frigid pond, and the always popular slush cup ski competition, where costumed skiers launch over a jump and attempt to ski across a pond. Visit: alyeskaresort.com. NATIVE…

It’s not easy getting a Broadway show to Alaska. In the case of Hamilton, which ran in Anchorage last August, it took over two years of planning and a 757 commercial aircraft. Smaller shows require a mix of trucks and barges, with delivery times that must somehow squeeze into a production’s national touring schedule.

DIGENEGH (MCGRATH) “Over on the Kuskokwim River” in Deg Xinag, the Athabascan language of Shageluk, Anvik, and the Athabascans at Holy Cross. Of about 275 Deg Hit’an people, approximately 40 speak the language. McGrath is featured in Luc Mehl’s story in this month’s Community section. (source: Deg Xinag Learners’ Dictionary) SUYITNA (SUSITNA RIVER) Dena’ina for “sandy river,” referring to the river’s silt and many sandbars. The river begins at the Susitna Glacier in the Alaska Range and runs 313 miles to the ocean near Anchorage. It drains nearly 20,000 square miles, mostly within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, home to this year’s Arctic Winter Games. Learn more about the games in this month’s Profile section by Tim Lydon. (source: Shem Pete’s Alaska) Above: Sandbars in the Susitna River as seen from the Denali Highway. Courtesy Bo Mertz

There are many places to get a great shot of the highest mountain in North America—and not all of them are in Denali National Park. On a clear day, you can spot the towering snow-capped dome from Anchorage. Talkeetna affords a backside view along a picturesque river. Flightseeing provides exceptional close-ups. But going to the park delivers some choice locations for creative composition.

The Iditarod is Alaska’s most famous sled dog race, but it’s not the only one. Here are some other races happening this winter. Yukon Quest The Yukon Quest, begins February 3. Formerly, a 1,000-mile odyssey between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon, this year’s three races range from 100 to 450 miles, all within Canada. Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship, Anchorage, February 23-March 3. Part of the “Fur Rondy” winter carnival, the races traverse Anchorage streets, forests,and parks. Annamaet Limited North American Championships Annamaet Limited North American Championships, Fairbanks, March 8-10.Features 4-, 6-, and 8-dog teams and 2-dog skijoring. Open North American Championship Open North American Championship, Fairbanks, March 15-17. This is the world’s oldest continuously held sled dog race. Communities and nonprofits host many other races between January and March, and of course mushing is about more than just racing.

March events bring sports and culture After 10 years abroad, the Arctic Winter Games return to Alaska this March 10-16. And for the first time, they will be held in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough north of Anchorage. “This is an amazing opportunity,” says Karen Lane, general manager of the 2024 Arctic Winter Games Host Society. “Alaskans can watch athletes competing from across the circumpolar north and experience cultural activities not often seen here.” Since 1968, the games have offered young athletes from northern and arctic nations a chance to compete on a global stage. Held every two years, they feature dozens of competitions, including skiing, hockey, and demanding Indigenous sports like the two-foot-high kick, kneel jump, and knuckle hop. An expected 2,000 athletes will compete this year from Alaska, Greenland, Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere. February is crunch-time for the host society, which for over a year has been planning a blizzard…

Good riddance to the days of film Very few people are nostalgic for the old days of photo processing: the interminable wait to see if you got even one decent image on a roll of 36 frames of film, the abject disappointment if you failed to, and the cost of prints and slides. If you had your own darkroom or worked in one, the routine included agitating film canisters by hand, mixing smelly chemicals, wielding tongs and washing trays, and the constant fear of light leaks. Wild horses couldn’t drag me back to those times, but I did have some interesting photo lab jobs over the years. My first was in a small Wasilla-based business. During that time, I also volunteered at a horse boarding stable and had lightly frostbitten my fingertips while wearing damp gloves. I quickly learned that peeling fingertips from winter’s nip does not go well with…

Get Inspired For many people, a trip to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime dream fulfilled. For others, it’s a return to one of their favorite places on the planet. And some visit once and decide to make the state their home. There are reasons aplenty to come to the Great Land and explore: An abundance of wildlife, unique cultural experiences, and unparalleled scenery are just a few. Building time into your itinerary to relax and absorb the small delights is always a good idea, too—enjoying quirky cafes, strolling through a boat harbor, groovin’ to some live local music. And if you’ve never been here, we hope these photos nudge you to start planning. Who knows, in just a few short months, you could be watching humpback whales bubble-net feeding or be flightseeing around the summit of Denali. After all, every adventure starts with an inspiration. —Susan Sommer 1. A pair of…