Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska
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TO THE BEAT OF GHANA

The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (FSAF) is hosting a Ghanaian Dance, Drumming, and Song workshop this weekend at Dance Theatre Fairbanks. Visiting Instructor Okaidja Afronso will take participants through a series of six workshops in two days, teaching the techniques of Drum Language, African Dance, and Large Group Song.

Returning to Fairbanks for the fourth time over multiple years of festival instruction, Okaidja has been busy teaching in the music rooms of local schools and at Joel’s Place this week. Just like with younger students, his adult classes at Dance Theatre Fairbanks will open with an introduction to Ghanaian culture- outlining the country’s location, the similarities and differences between life in West Africa and the United States, and “what role music and dance plays in our lives as Ghanaians.”

Inspired by his family’s legacy of song in the small Ghanaian fishing village where he was raised, Okaidja says that dancing did not come as naturally to him at first. But its ability to transform a state of mind was too brilliant to give up. Eventually Okaidja was accepted into a prestigious dance program at the University of Ghana and later joined a professional dance troupe. Now he works as a private instructor in Portland and records music in his spare time.

“There’s this freedom in your heart and you just want to put everything outside- all of your problems- and enjoy it,” Okaidja says of traditional dance.

He jokes that adult classes can be more difficult to instruct because older students are so absorbed by daily stress that it’s harder to clear their minds. Regardless, those who witnessed his adult class perform at the FSAF World Music and Dance concert in July will remember that by the time of the performance, Okaidja’s students were all smiles.

“That’s the main goal,” he laughs. “It takes a clear mind. You should be up for a challenge. But by the time you’re done- you have worked for it.”

Students will also get a feel for how the rhythms of drum, dance, and song reflect ancient stories passed on through many generations of Ghanaian culture. Okaidja explains that drum language is usually tied to oral storytelling, so that the beats of a drum help you remember the next verse in the story- like a musical mnemonic device. Dance can be incorporated, as well- or “your footwork is what you are singing,” as Okaidja puts it.

He is quick to admit, however, that part of the fun is the flexibility of storytelling, and bringing new interpretations or twists to ancient dances and songs. First-time musicians often read messages in movements and melodies that others may not have seen.

Each workshop will include roughly an hour and a half of practice time, which Okaidja says is generous for beginners.

Registration is $110 for the complete set of six workshops, $60 for one day, and $25 for each individual session. Participants are encouraged to bring friends, family, and their favorite drum (though drums will also be provided).

Photo credit: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival

Where:

Dance Theatre Fairbanks

656 7th Avenue

When:

Saturday, November 19th, 12:00pm-5:30pm

Sunday, November 20th, 12:00pm-5:30pm

Phone:

(907)474-8869

 

 

FLY AWAY WITH FIRST FRIDAY

This month’s First Friday showcase draws inspiration from characters and places around the globe- particularly through the eyes, cameras, and paintbrushes of veterans and active duty military personnel who have contributed to a first-time mixed show at the Fairbanks Veterans Center (with hors d’oeuvres doubling as one soldier’s artwork). Pottery featuring a Japanese glazing technique will be on display just a block down from a collaborative art show and culinary specials commemorating El Dia de los Muertos. Like always, Alaskan themes dominate local artistic expression, with abstract landscapes, jewelry inspired by natural materials, photography of abandoned mines, and botanical prints of Alaskan flowers. And if these techniques or topics are too tame for your tastes, browse an acrylic show based on 1950’s cheesecake art and the psychedelic movement. First Friday in downtown Fairbanks promises another night of cultural, culinary, and creative delights.

Around Here @ Fairbanks Community Museum, 410 Cushman Street

Pauline Lian of Iceworm Studios @ If Only… a fine store, 215 Cushman Street

Phil Ackley @ Frank’s Menswear, 535 3rd Avenue, Suite B

“Raku and More,” Shirley Odsather @ Co-Op Arts, 535 2nd Avenue, Suite 103

Calling in Art-Y @ Fairbanks Vet Center, 540 4th Avenue, Suite 100

“Alaskapes,” by Donna Lenard @ S Salon & Studio, 901 Cushman Street

Kristin Timm & Carrie Aronson @ Morris Thompson Center, 101 Dunkel Street

Lance Bifoss & Bradley Enzenauer @ Chartreuse, 729 1st Avenue

One of a Kind @ Alaska House Art Gallery, 1003 Cushman Street

Liz King @ Hair, Body and Sol, 1221 Noble Street

Co-Op Arts @ Alana’s Espresso Escape, 535 2nd Avenue, Suite 101

Erin Otness @ Lady Lee’s Bath House Emporium, 825 1st Avenue

Day of the Dead @ l’assiette de Pomegranate, 414 2nd Avenue

Living Magic @ The Cat’s Meow, 212 Lacey Street

November Showcase @ Beads and Things, 537 2nd Avenue

Live Jazz @ Bobby’s Downtown, 609 2nd Avenue

Sand Castle @ McCafferty’s, A Coffee House, Etc. 408 Cushman Street

Weekend Entertainment @ The Big I Pub & Lounge 122 N Turner Street

Arly—Jylz @ Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q 107 Wickersham Street

 

 

 

 

AK RAG CO: FROM RAGS TO RETAIL

Old t-shirts, jeans, fleece sweatshirts, towels, wool coats, and even grocery bags can find new life at the Alaska Rag Company, where fabrics of all types are stripped down and refashioned into hand woven rugs as part of a vocational training program for adults with mental illnesses.

Operated by the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center for nearly twenty years, the Alaska Rag Company is a small but powerful operation that aims to develop job skills in clients through a multi-step program. A tidy and compact shop at the corner of 6th Avenue and Lacey Street houses half a dozen looms, racks of colorful products, and up to twenty beginning weavers with staff on hand to help them work through the many phases of recycled rug manufacturing.

Clients are referred to the training program by therapists or case managers who believe they are ready to re-enter the workforce. Most begin with simple tasks like cutting strips and removing buttons from donated fabric while learning basic job skills like arriving on time and taking direction. Weavers are in the final stages of training and aim to secure employment in the Fairbanks community.

The creative process begins at community drop-off centers, where items and materials from old t-shirts to corduroy are left for staff to gather. Making use of donated materials helps keep costs low, with the added environmental benefit of recycling old clothing back into a useful product. Drop-off bins are located in the Sadler’s parking lot and at Fred Meyer West. Donations are also accepted at the Alaska Rag Company.

From there, materials are sorted, with the best items sold as-is on a rack in the shop or donated to thrift stores. The rest are divided into piles used to make rags (available in bulk with free downtown delivery or in household bundles) and those that can be woven into rugs and other products. All zippers, buttons, and pockets are removed, the material is washed, and the fabric is cut into strips.

“Weaving is the fast part,” Monika Hebert, Employment Specialist, says of the entire process.

Even so- once on the loom, a standard rug takes at least ten hours to weave. Curious customers can watch the process, as two or three weavers are usually hard at work in front of looms scattered throughout the store. Prices range from $20-$300 depending on size, and custom orders are welcome. The AK Rag Company can weave an item from a favorite piece of clothing, or use paint and upholstery samples to match a rug with interior decor. Complete sets of table runners, placemats, and rugs are also available.

The woven products made in-house aren’t all you’ll find on the shelves at the Alaska Rag Company, though. The shop also carries consignment items from twenty local and Alaskan artists, including note cards, mittens, jewelry, pottery, wooden cutting boards, and pressed flowers.

This wide range of house wares, clothing, and gifts keeps customers coming back throughout the holidays.

“We have regulars,” Monika remarks about the shop’s clientele. “It’s kind of like a coffee shop, but without the coffee.”

Parking is available in a driveway adjacent to the Alaska Rag Company off of 6th Avenue, or on the street across from the shop.

Where:

Alaska Rag Company

603 Lacey Street

When:

Monday- Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm

Phone:

(907)451-4401

THINK LOCAL CAFE CLUB

Fairbanks FirstThink Local is launching a Cafe Club for Fairbanksans interested in meeting other community members and mingling once a month for an hour before work. There’s no agenda, no membership requirement, and no list of awkward conversation starters. It’s free and open to the public. All you have to do is be friendly, interesting, and partial to delicious coffee (Diving Duck serves one of the best fresh-roasted cups in town).

The Cafe Club will meet the first Monday of each month, beginning November 7th, at 9:00am at Julia’s Solstice Cafe.

Sean O’Shea, Program Director for Fairbanks First, will be on hand to chat and answer questions but expects conversation topics to emerge based on the preferences of those in attendance.

Fairbanks First, housed in the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, encourages new consumer spending habits on the basis that a 10% shift in outside or online purchases to those made within Fairbanks could contribute as much as $376 million to the Fairbanks economy. The program’s definition of local encompasses any business that falls within the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Sean doesn’t intend to push the program mission or membership onto Cafe Club enthusiasts. In fact, he’d like to see a diverse group of people and thoughts at the figurative (and literal) table, suggesting the best conversations sometimes occur with a devil’s advocate in the crowd. Does buying locally make sense in Fairbanks? What is “local”? Sean is happy to see these and other topics up for discussion and debate at the Cafe Club.

Whether you come to “ease yourself into the work week,” as Sean puts it, or to hash out the merits of local versus global economies, the Cafe Club will kick off this Monday and your input will determine its focus and direction- fitting for a program inherently shaped by the consumers and businesses which choose to participate.

Fairbanks First is in the midst of gearing up for a busy holiday season, with several other promotions (including a Party Bus and lecture series) planned in the coming months.

When:

Monday, November 7th, 9:00am-10:00am

Where:

Julia’s Solstice Cafe

206 Driveway Street, Suite A

Phone:

(907)452-2185

A WALK IN THE LIGHT DOWNTOWN

The coordinators of the Street Outreach and Advocacy Program (S.O.A.P.) on 7th Avenue work quietly, day in and day out, to bring the most basic services and support to at-risk youth and homeless teens.

Now, they’re bringing their efforts to light- literally- and taking the message of need to the streets with an Annual Candlelight Vigil (poster here). Next Wednesday, a band of allies carrying steady flames will line Cushman Street bridge in honor of young Fairbanksans who don’t feel safe with family, but haven’t yet found a refuge of their own.

November is National Youth Homelessness Month, and vigils will be held all over the country in solemn support of children and teens who bed down under a bridge or in an alleyway instead of at home.

To participate in the vigil, gather at one of three starting points (parking available) at 4:30pm on Wednesday, November 9th- choose between Chartreuse, Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, or Sadler’s. Processions from each location will meet on Cushman Street bridge, standing in solidarity for half an hour before moving on to Immaculate Conception Church for snacks, drinks, and a debrief led by local agencies.

“We estimate around 800 homeless youth in Fairbanks,” Heather Munro, VISTA Volunteer with S.O.A.P. says, citing a 2010 report of 456 cases of homeless youth in Fairbanks school systems.

S.O.A.P. provides basic services and products to teenage clients, averaging 35-50 individuals per month. Clients can eat meals, find warm clothing, pick up free bus tokens, and use the internet to find a job or look into housing options. They can also take the GED at no personal cost. Coordinators are on hand to help, provide an upbeat atmosphere, and build camaraderie with activities and group projects. The center, operated by Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption, is open 2pm-6pm on weekdays.

Unfortunately, there are large blocks of time when S.O.A.P. is closed and clients are left to their own devices to find a place to sleep or a hearty meal.

The vigil comes amidst a new wave of hope on the homeless front of Fairbanks. Local agencies are focused on the immediate opening of a 24-hour emergency shelter for homeless youth. They have purchased a building on 10th Avenue and chosen a name- the Door, inspired by two poems about the opportunity and changes that life can present.

The Door will be the only shelter of its kind in Fairbanks, filling a gap created with the closing of a similar program by the Fairbanks Native Association nearly eight years ago.  Currently spearheaded by a nonprofit organization called Fairbanks Youth Advocates (FYA), the shelter is slated to be open in summer/fall 2012, after a frantic period of renovations and fundraising. A donation wish list is posted alongside giving opportunities on the FYA website, and volunteers- particularly those handy with a hammer- are always welcome.

Marylee Bates, Program Director for FYA, says the pace of the project is on par with the desperate demand for a youth shelter in this community.

“It’s been a topic of conversation for years,” Marylee says. “This need kept rising to the surface.”

Modeled off of The Covenant House in Anchorage, the shelter will provide emergency housing (up to 21 days) to teens ages 12-17 as well as healthcare, food, clothing, counseling and help with school or finding work. In 2010, 130 homeless and runaway youth from Fairbanks made it to The Covenant House in Anchorage, where Fairbanksans make up about 10% of the clientele in an average year.

“That’s too far to go in winter,” Marylee points out, though long trips of this sort aren’t safe at any time of year for young runaways.

The candlelight vigil is a show of solidarity with youth who may eventually find their way to the Door, but are left to rely on S.O.A.P., community support, and other agencies in the meantime.

The vigil is supported by Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Joel’s Place, Fairbanks Counseling & Adoption, Downtown Association of Fairbanks, Fairbanks First, Fairbanks Youth Advocates, AmeriCorps VISTA, United Way, and Safe Place.

When:

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 | 4:30pm-6:30pm

Phone:

(907)378-4392

 

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE

This Halloween, downtown Fairbanks has seasonal flavors, frights, and festivities to coincide with this most haunting of holidays. From tasty restaurant specials and freak-filled parties to a full costume shop stocked with sheep bodysuits, pirate accessories, and colorful wigs, downtown Fairbanks is your one-stop source for a spooktastic October.

RAD COSTUMES

Chartreuse has pulled out all the stops (again) this year- with owner Sheri transforming vacant space next door into a full-fledged costume shop, complete with a smoke machine, creepy window displays, and cobwebs to get you in the spirit. Hundreds of costumes- every creature or character you can imagine- are available with steep (20%) discounts for military and students (college or high school). A Rotting Pumpkin sale on October 31st will knock prices by half for everyone. Vintage costumes and rentals are also available at Chartreuse, but stop in early for the best selection. Bonus: Check out the cannibalistic pumpkin stationed at the store entrance when you visit.

TASTY TREATS

Treats aren’t just for miniature ninjas and tiny rockstars- pumpkins and apples with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon turn up the warmth and tone of culinary specials this Halloween. If there’s one thing downtown does right- it’s seasonal flavors.

Stop into Julia’s Solstice Café for vegan pumpkin pie and other seasonal baked goods available through Thanksgiving. If you prefer pumpkin in an even richer form, visit The Fudge Pot for pumpkin pie fudge. McCafferty’s brews up a delicious homemade pumpkin pie steamer, and one barista recommends it as a latte with whipped cream and a sprinkle of white chocolate powder.

The most die-hard pumpkin fans should stop into Gambardella’s Pasta Bella for the Great Pumpkin Special- a scoop of pumpkin cheesecake gelato, served with a slice of pumpkin pie, drizzled with pumpkin sauce and topped with whipped cream.

If you prefer apples as your fall food staple, a cup of spiced cider at McCafferty’s is only $1.50 and the warm apple pie at Gambardella’s Pasta Bella comes adorned in whipped cream.

Gambardella’s Pasta Bella is also serving up seasonal meals, including a Harvest Dinner every Tuesday and Wednesday. Fridays and Saturdays are prime rib night, Sundays and Mondays are all-you-can-eat pasta, and Thursdays feature wine tastings with Bruce Abbott.

FREAKY FESTIVITIES

It’s no fun if all the food and fright doesn’t come with a few chances to show off your witty/classy/outlandish choice in costumes. Luckily, there is plenty of downtown Halloween activity- including theatrical, educational, and dance party opportunities.

The Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre will feature a special Halloween showing of Macbeth (8:00pm) and Sleepless Night (6:00pm) at the Empress Theatre on Monday, October 31st- with a special half-off discount for Sleepless Night tickets when purchased with one for Macbeth. Sleepless Night features Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart along with original work on the theme of “Halloween” by local musicians and spoken word artists.

Ghost stories are a must for Halloween, and spookier when tales center on familiar towns, buildings, and outdoor spaces. A new exhibit debuting at the Fairbanks Community Museum titled “Legends, Oddities, and Strange Wonders of Alaska” details the ghosts and legends of Alaska with emphasis on the Interior. The Museum will be open on Saturday, October 29th from 12:00pm-4:00pm with treats for kids and also on Monday, October 31st from 4:00pm-8:00pm. Admission is always free, and donations are welcome.

Finally, it’s not Halloween without a proper party- and Bobby’s Downtown will host an annual Halloween celebration on Saturday, October 29th with live music and drink specials. The Big I Pub & Lounge Halloween party will kick off that same night, with DJ Benjammin on music and dancing all night long.

A MEASURABLE IMPROVEMENT

Downtowns typically have a variety of needs in the urban core that exceed the level of service envisioned by the City’s charter.   Downtowns typically rely on non-governmental organizations like the Downtown Association of Fairbanks to field programs like the Community Service Patrol (CSP) to sustain a welcoming climate and to serve underserved populations.  The CSP does both – with measurably positive impacts.

The CSP’s mission is to “ensure that all incapacitated people are treated in a fashion where their safety and well-being is ensured” and to “protect and promote downtown Fairbanks”. The CSP operates as a joint foot- and van-patrol in a defined area downtown six days a week, 15 hours a day to keep downtown safe and welcoming, and to take incapacitated or intoxicated individuals into protective custody for transport to an appropriate point of care to protect them from cold-related injuries, death or victimization.

Alaska Statute Title 47, Chapter 37 provides that intoxicated or incapacitated people – “chronic inebriates” – be taken into protective custody and transported to the safety of home or to an appropriate treatment facility.  However, because the vast majority of chronically inebriated people are not engaged in criminal behavior and because law enforcement agencies concentrate on deterring and responding to criminal acts, the needs of a vulnerable population of people “falls through the cracks” to the CSP.

For twelve months ended September 30, 2011, three CSP Ambassadors:

  • transported 1,555 people from the downtown to an appropriate point of care;
  • made these transports on behalf of 261 unique individuals;
  • found 15 individuals with injuries or complaints requiring CSP transport to the hospital;
  • found 12 individuals with injuries or complaints requiring EMS transport to the hospital.

The CSP has a positive impact on downtown’s business climate.  The following table illustrates that the CSP’s “total encounters” with chronically inebriated people has fallen 40% this year to date since 2009, suggesting that the CSP has dampened excessive behavior in downtown’s parks and sidewalks.  That the “total transports” are unchanged shows that the number of people needing protective custody is unfortunately stable.

Project Outcome – Welcoming Downtown 2009 2010 2011 ytd(9 months) % change 2009 – 2011
Total encounters 2528 2065 1507 (40%)
Total transports 1191 1412 1137 (5%)

The CSP creates efficiencies for Fairbanks’ emergency services and medical providers.  Every protective custody transport is one less that the Fairbanks Police Department needs to make. Fairbanks Police Chief Laren Zager has estimated that the CSP does the work of three full time police officers – an annual taxpayer savings of roughly $250,000.

More striking perhaps is the way the CSP has been able to transport chronically inebriated people to appropriate institutional care, which saves community medical resources.  As the graph below illustrates, more of Fairbanks’ chronically inebriated people, many of whom are also homeless and may suffer mental disorders, are being transported to FNA’s Gateway to Recovery Enhanced Detox Center where they can commence medically supervised alcohol withdrawal.  Correspondingly, admissions to the Fairbanks Memorial Emergency Room have declined as that facility is being utilized more for medical visits only.  Steady use of FCC’s 12-hour sleep-off reflects a need for the facility as much as it suggests a lack of alternatives.

Project Outcome – Transport to Appropriate Points of Care 2009 BASELINE 2010 2011 YTD % change2009-2011
Transport to ‘home’ to a consenting adult more 12% 17% 11% (8%)
Transport to Detox more 20% 35% 39% 48%
Transport to Fairbanks Memorial less 43% 27% 23% (47%)
Transport to Fairbanks Correctional Center less 25% 21% 27% 4%
Total transports 1191 1412 1137 (5%)

 

The CSP has an annual budget of approximately $180,000.  The program would not exist as it does without a diverse group of sponsors supporting a community effort to address the problems faced by and presented by chronic inebriates in the Fairbanks community.

FASHION & FLAVOR AT THE WESTMARK

Events, dances, fundraisers, luncheons, conventions, and corporate meetings are regularly held at Westmark Hotel & Conference Center, one of the best venues in the city for space rental, catering, parking, and proximity to downtown amenities. This weekend, fashion and food will fill the Gold Room during two popular annual events open to all Fairbanksans.

FLAVORS OF FAIRBANKS

The 7th Annual City Sampler hosted by the Fairbanks Resource Agency (FRA) brings the cuisine of fourteen area restaurants to downtown Fairbanks. Participants will receive a wine glass and small plate to sample the desserts and hors d’oeuvres from over a dozen restaurants. Wines from K&L Distributors will be served in complimentary flavors.

“It’s a lot of fun for $40,” says Eva Norwood, Director of Outreach and Development at FRA. Funds raised through ticket sales will benefit the senior programs provided by FRA, including adult day care and an Alzheimer’s unit.

Live music with a “big band jazz sound” by Gentle Storm (a subgroup of the Fairbanks Community Jazz Band) will play throughout the night, and the entire event will wrap up in under two hours with plenty of time for a post-dinner drink at the wine bar of Gambardella’s Pasta Bella.

A new perk for this year’s participants is a complimentary coupon book for 27 local restaurants, including those represented at the City Sampler. A chance to win two round-trip tickets to Germany and other prizes are also part of the mix. Tickets are available by calling 456-8901, visiting HOPS Hallmark, and at other select locations.

Participating restaurants include a few downtown favorites, like l’assiette de Pomegranate, Bobby’s, and the Westmark. Cuisine from area Mexican, Cuban, Cajun, and Mediterranean kitchens will also be available.

The City Sampler takes place on Thursday, October 20th from 6:30-8:00pm in the Westmark Gold Room.

WICKED GOOD FASHION

The Cham Fashional, on Saturday, October 22nd in the Westmark Gold Room, was first hosted by the Fairbanks chapter of Quota International over half a century ago (52 years, to be exact) and it’s still going strong.

You can expect a fashion show with a theatrical twist based on the musical Wicked, with dance performances on the theme throughout the night. “Cham” is short for “champagne,” served to the black-tie attendees of this upscale and trendy fundraiser.

Jessica Woller, chair of the Cham, says a black-tie fashion show is unique in Fairbanks both as a fundraiser and an event.

“There are lots of auctions, lots of dinners but this is the only fashion show in Fairbanks,” Jessica points out.

The two-hour show features dances choreographed by local troupes and clothing, makeup, and styling from some of the top clothing stores in Fairbanks including Chartreuse, Connie’s, S Salon, and Cynde’s Boutique. Volunteer dancers have been rehearsing for weeks to prepare for the show, and shops make careful choices about which clothing they will showcase each year at the Cham. The entire production will be narrated by witches who have stepped straight out of Wicked.

“This year is a little bit different. This year is a lot more of a theatrical production,” Jessica says.

The party doesn’t stop when the show is over, either- a DJ takes the floor and dancing continues until 2 a.m. A silent auction and no-host bar will also be available, as well as great door prizes topping out with a trip on Princess Cruises.

All proceeds will benefit Quota International, which works with individuals who have speech and hearing difficulties and sponsors programs for disadvantaged women and children. The Fairbanks chapter recently started a high school scholarship program.

“We help a lot of individuals and small organizations that would otherwise fall through the cracks,” Jessica describes. “(The money) we raise this night gets us through the year.”

Tickets ($75) to the Cham Fashional are available at Denali State Bank (119 North Cushman) or at the door on the night of the show. Doors open at 7:00pm, the show runs from 8:00-10:00pm, and dancing continues late into the night.

When:

City Sampler- Thursday, October 20th 6:30pm-8:00pm

Cham Fashional- Saturday, October 22nd 7:00pm-2:00am

Where:

Westmark Hotel & Conference Center

813 Noble Street

Call:

City Sampler- (907)456-8901

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

The Downtown Association of Fairbanks hosted the 2011 Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011. This meeting and mixer provides an opportunity for members and downtown enthusiasts to convene for a presentation on the state of the organization, the election of new Board Members, and a reception featuring fine food and wine by downtown restaurants (minutes here).

This year’s meeting, held in the former New Horizons Gallery on 1st Avenue, was extremely well attended. Many thanks to all those business representatives and inviduals who turned out.

Each year, the Downtown Association recognizes outstanding businesses and contributors who help further revitalization in the heart of Fairbanks. This year, the following award winners were recognized in a special ceremony at the Annual Membership Meeting:

BEST BLOCK was awarded to BIG DADDY’S, THE BRIDGEWATER HOTEL, CHARTREUSE, and GAMBARDELLA’S PASTA BELLA to recognize a block of neighboring retailers who used an array of capital investment, advertising and new offerings to promote downtown while developing their businesses. Examples include the Bridgewater’s use of radio advertisements that featured downtown in the ad narrative; Chartreuse’s super-charged First Friday events; new investment and new offerings at Gambardella’s wine bar; and the new Summer Weekend parties all summer on Friday and Saturday nights at Big Daddy’s.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR was awarded to GABRIELLE STEVENS and FRANK DUTTON to recognize their initiative in creating and caring for a lovely perennial and annual garden at Historic City Hall.

PARTNER OF THE YEAR was awarded to CALYPSO FARM & ECOLOGY CENTER to recognize the prime mover in bringing fresh produce to downtown residents and restaurants and to recognize their role in conceptualizing and planning the Downtown Market.

SPONSOR OF THE YEAR was awarded to SANI-CAN to recognize excellence in operational efficiency and generosity in making downtown events happen affordably. SANI-CAN goes and above and beyond the call of duty to bring-off events downtown. They pick up their portable toilets at 4 AM after the Midnight Sun Festival and worked with us every week all summer to bring and retrieve a toilet to and from the Downtown Market.

REVITALIZATION OF THE YEAR was awarded to LADY LEE’S BATHHOUSE EMPORIUM to recognize the one-year anniversary of an active addition to downtown’s retail mix that brings the collections and energies of 18 local antique dealers. Kathy Lee, Owner, participated in member meetings, First Friday shows, kept long summer hours, and decorated her outdoor spaces and surfaces.

As staff at the Downtown Association look forward to the year ahead, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what projects, initiatives, or events you’d most love to see happen downtown in 2012.

Please complete our quick online survey with your comments and feedback (open to all- not just members).

YOU’RE INVITED: ANNUAL MEMBER MEETING

The Downtown Association of Fairbanks will host the 2011 Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, October 5th in the former New Horizons Gallery (519 1st Avenue). This meeting is open to current or potential members, downtown enthusiasts, and all working partners for the Downtown Market, Midnight Sun Festival, First Fridays, etc.

Members should plan to attend the business portion of the evening, from 5:30-6:00pm. This will include a recap of 2011 efforts, updates on the status of Vision Fairbanks, and a vote to elect this year’s slate of members to the Board of Directors.

A reception featuring live music by Jass Pharm plus wine and food provided by area restaurants (including Bobby’s, Julia’s Solstice Cafe, l’assiette de Pomegranate, The Fudge Pot, Westmark Hotel & Conference Center, Gambardella’s, Lavelle’s, and Sipping Streams Tea Company) will follow, beginning at 6pm and continuing until 8pm. All guests are welcome to join us for this portion of the night, which will also include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lathrop Building and an awards ceremony for outstanding downtown businesses and partners.

Parking is available in the parking garage, on 1st Ave, on 2nd Ave, or in the courhouse parking lot after 4:30pm. Please RSVP online if you plan to attend either the business meeting or the reception and provide feedback on the year to come through this online survey.

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Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska