Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska


“Someday, we’re gonna be famous,” Patrick Holland jokes from behind the glass counter of Alaska’s Far Northern Knives

, his new knife store in the Co-Op Plaza.

Though he calls himself “ornery,” a close look at Patrick’s work reveals a dedicated and knowledgeable bladesmith who got his start shaping knives from car parts taken from a friend’s junkyard in Arizona.

Patrick’s self-taught beginnings have burgeoned into a full-fledged business partnership with sister Nan Tumbleson, who sells leatherwork out of the same location- tucked into a corner of the Plaza across the hallway from Co-Op Arts.

“He does knives and I do leather,” Nan explains while seated at her workstation- a collapsable table strewn with dyes, embossing tools, and strips of leather. “I said- ‘Why don’t we open up a store?’”

Patrick and Nan sold at trade shows, gun shows, and on military bases before deciding to take the leap and open up shop in April of this year. Patrick sold several guns to finance up-front expenses.

Early traffic from Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base kept Patrick and Nan busy. They still receive calls and orders from Iraq and requests from soldiers nearing deployment. Nan and her husband, Brian, spent their first anniversary at Eielson nearly thirty years ago when he was stationed there. Now he helps Nan sew and lace her products.

Luckily, more locals and visitors are slowly stumbling upon the shop and placing steady orders for custom work.

Whether working from his mind or the sketches of a client, Patrick begins each knife on paper by mapping the design of both blade and handle. His wife’s eye for color and complementary materials helps him piece together knives with as much beauty as functionality.

A machine cuts out the rough shape of a blade from a piece of folded steel, a material that incorporates two or more metals into a single blade, providing flexibility and hardness.

“The mixture of hard and soft steel” creates the perfect combination, Patrick says, “so you don’t have a brittle knife. You have something that sharpens well.”

Acidic treatment unveils both design and texture in the blade, and folded steel will “hold an edge” three times as long as other materials. Patrick files the shape of the blade and adds special grooves or curves once the machine has cut out the rough design.

Then, Patrick turns his attention to the handle, cutting and sanding each piece of wood or antler. Metallic guards cap each end of the handle. After attaching the handle and guards to the blade, Patrick gives each knife a high polish treatment and final sanding.

He spends 6-8 hours on any given knife and prices range from $90-$500 based on the amount of metal in the blade, the number of times the steel has been folded, and the level of detail in his work. His repertoire includes hunting knives, daggers, filet knives, swords, and cutlery.

These are not “one generation knives,” in Patrick’s words. “You hand them down.

Each knife comes with its own leather sheath, likely made by Nan.

Nan also makes belts twice as thick as most, and proven to last much longer. She can carve designs and dye the leather in any of her products- including holsters, shoulder rigs, hair clips, wallets, belt buckles, purses, key chains, and cell phone cases. Belts sell for under $30 and holsters for less than $40.

“We also sell the stuff for you to do it on your own,” Nan says with a wave to the racks of raw leather, suedes, snaps, ribbons, dyes, and horse tack buckles.

Patrick and Nan can also repair knife blades, handles, or leather goods. Nan’s work has been in particularly high demand.

“We’ve been twelve years without a leather shop now,” Nan says of Fairbanks. Customers have brought in a backlog of belts, boots, and sheaths.

While Patrick and Nan stay busy with custom orders and repairs, visitors and locals are beginning to pop in for a visit. Patrick hears more than his share of hunting stories and enjoys explaining the intricacies of each knife he’s built. He’s eager to remind customers that he accepts custom orders if they don’t find something to their tastes on display.

Brian predicts Alaska’s Far Northern Knives will soon have a dependable clientele of repeat customers, thanks to the incredible skill of Nan and Patrick and their impressive product line. Their work speaks for itself, and the long road to business ownership by this sibling duo looks as if it’s starting to pay off.











The implementation phase of Vision Fairbanks is over.  Neither of the plan’s foundational pieces – revising traffic circulation and creating new zoning tools – was acceptable to enough businesses and property owners downtown.  The latest disappointment for revitalization came June 23rd when the Borough Assembly defeated Ordinance 2011-31.  That ordinance would have created two new zone types in Borough code to guide land use downtown.  Read News-Miner story here. 

The Vision Fairbanks plan relies on traffic circulation and new zoning tools to attract significant future investment.  Those changes would improve downtown’s competitiveness as an investment destination.  Without those pieces, downtown revitalization is still possible, of course, but proponents will chart a different course. 

Revitalizing a downtown is complex.  The Downtown Association is committed to an all-of-the-above approach to downtown’s day-to-day and necessary long-term structural changes.  So we’ll explore possibilities remaining in the Vision Fairbanks plan, continue to generate ideas and events that bring people downtown and support the efforts and ideas of others to do the same. 

Questions or comments?  Call David at 452-8676 or email  



The 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival was a great success, lining the streets of downtown Fairbanks with vendors, performers, and activities from noon to midnight in celebration of 24 hours of daylight.

As always, the Downtown Association of Fairbanks relied on hundreds of fabulous festival supporters, sponsors, volunteers, bands, dancers, merchants, and vendors to create this community-wide event. A huge thank-you goes out to each of these key partners, and all those who came out to enjoy the festival.

Alaska’s largest single-day event wouldn’t be possible without your generous contributions!

In a special twist this year, the Downtown Association raffled off a 2011 Ford Fiesta to raise money for downtown events. Wendy Petrice of Fairbanks won the car, and the raffle raised more than $10,000 for downtown events. Many thanks to the 2500 of you who purchased tickets in support of the BP Midnight Sun Festival, and also to the area businesses that helped sell tickets and donated to the raffle.

Festival Volunteers

Calypso Farm, Andrew Quainton, Damien Snook, Paul Martz, Sean O’Shea, Adam Nash, Luke Gunderman, Raelynn Radway, Chris Miller, Angie Schmidt, Ed & Lois Niewohner, Amy Kemp, Mike Webb, Bart LeBon, David Hayden, Tonya Wood, Jessica LaDouceur,  Ken Henry, Gary Conatser, Tara Callear, Siobahn Williams, Dick Lord, Amanda Huff, Joanna Wallace, Joleen Boyd, Bethany Tackett, Terin Porter, Midnight Sun Swim Team, Monroe Catholic High School Football Team, Ryan Holland, Bob Eley, Dianne Fleaks, Dianne Christiansen, Chet Reed, Midnight Sun Roller Girls, Joshua Poe, Isaiah Mangum, Sheri Oleson, Sally Rafson, Dance Floor Volunteers, Chrissy Martz

2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival Sponsors

BP, Seekins Ford Lincoln, MAC Federal Credit Union, Subway, Sadler’s Home Furnishings, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alaska Waste, Sani-Can, Spirit of Alaska, Bridgewater Hotel, The Alaska Club, GVEA, Kohler, Schmitt & Hutchison, First National Bank, JL Properties, Big Ray’s, GEICO Insurance, Denali State Bank, If Only.. a Fine Store, Festival Fairbanks, River City Investments, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Yukon Quest, Actus Community Fund, Lady Lee’s Bath House Emporium, Stephenson CPA, Equinox Physical Therapy, Yukon Title, Mecca Bar, Dance Theatre Fairbanks, Mt. McKinley Bank, Fairbanks Parking Authority, Spring Hill Suites by Marriott.

2011 Ford Fiesta Raffle Sponsors and Partners
Seekins Ford Lincoln, MAC Federal Credit Union, The Big I Pub & Lounge, S Salon, Chartreuse, Big Daddy’s Bar B-Q, River City Café & Espresso, l’assiette de Pomegranate, Fairbanks Community Museum, Alana’s Espresso Escape, David Edmond

Talent Sponsors
9th Army Band, The Legendary WillyMac, Legends of Rock, Caleb Aronson, Dance Theatre Fairbanks, Tundra Caravan Middle Eastern Dance, Ben Boyd, Dj Double X,



Over thirty performers will soon grace makeshift stages positioned throughout the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival to entertain crowds for twelve straight hours on Sunday, June 19th.

All will play at least one 45-minute set, offering festival-goers a wide variety of musical genres and performance styles, from Marc Brown & the Blues Crew to the South Sea Island Polynesian Dancers. Most will receive payment from the Downtown Association of Fairbanks for contributing their time, talents, and enthusiasm to the festival.

But eight of them will donate their musical expertise and perform free of charge.

Dan Socha, also known as Dj Double X, has been mixing music for so long that it stumps him to think of the exact number of years. He estimates around ten, and this year will mark his second BP Midnight Sun Festival performance.

He considers the festival a chance to expose his audience to new types of music and increase his profile in the Fairbanks community as a go-to mixer for parties and big events.

“I see it as an opportunity for a little bit more exposure. If by being a Talent Sponsor, I get my name out there a little more, I think it’s worth it,” Socha explains.

He “snuck” a second festival performance by volunteering to mix for the Legendary WillyMac, who performs earlier in the day on the Bear Stage. The festival is a family affair for Socha, who always brings his wife and two boys and plans to watch his cousin, Chris Swain, play with a band under the name Quasipseudo.

Caleb Aronson, a singer-songwriter and lifelong Fairbanksan, says audience members who listen closely may hear “Alaska history threads” in his acoustic blend of folk, blues, and Americana tunes. His first album included lyrical highlights of state history and he plans to play a few songs from that record during his 1:30pm performance on the SUBWAY Caribou Stage.

Aronson will return to the festival for his third year as a performer, though he attended “quite a few” festivals while growing up in Fairbanks. For him, the timing of the festival is as much of a draw as the crowds.

“I love Fairbanks around solstice,” he says. “It’s such a vibrant community when the sun is out all night.”

He uses the festival as a chance to catch up with friends who work in booths or fellow performers who he isn’t able to visit throughout the rest of the year. Aronson is currently working on a third album, to be released in the fall and his music is available at coffeeshops and music stores throughout town.

Tundra Caravan Middle Eastern Dance is performing for the eleventh straight year in the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival. Festival-goers who visit the Bear Stage at 4:15pm will see “cabaret style” belly-dancing, complete with sequins, sparkles, beads, and chiffon skirts. Co-director Susan Chapa will be joined by five fellow performers and students from her dance school, Roks Souzana.

“It’s closer to what people think of when they think of belly dancers when they aren’t familiar with all the different styles of belly dancing,” Chapa explains of her troupe’s style, though she is quick to emphasize that dancers of all shapes and sizes are welcome.

“Our mission is to promote the education of Middle Eastern dance here in Fairbanks,” Chapa describes. “It’s not just that perfect Hollywood image that we have of people who can bellydance.”

Why does the group keep returning to the festival?

“It’s always such a great audience and they’re always so supportive,” Chapa says, “We feel appreciated.”

You can also see Tundra Caravan Middle Eastern Dance perform from 7-8pm every Thursday in June for Gazebo Nights in Pioneer Park, sponsored by the Fairbanks Arts Association.

Many thanks to all of the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival Talent Sponsors- and be sure to come out and support these amazing performers.

2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival Talent Sponsors

9th Army Band                                                 Noon, 1pm, and 6pm          MAC Moose Stage (1st Ave & Lacey)

The Legendary WillyMac                             12:15pm          Bear Stage (2nd Ave & Noble)

Legends of Rock                                              12:30pm          SUBWAY Caribou Stage (2nd Ave & Cushman)

Caleb Aronson                                                  1:30pm            SUBWAY Caribou Stage (2nd Ave & Cushman)

Dance Theatre Fairbanks                             3:15pm and 7:15pm          Bear Stage (2nd Ave & Noble)

Tundra Caravan Middle Eastern Dance  4:15pm          Bear Stage (2nd Ave & Noble)

Ben Boyd                                                             9:15pm          Bear Stage (2nd Ave & Noble)

Dj Double X                                                        10:30pm          SUBWAY Caribou Stage (2nd Ave & Cushman)



Seekins Ford Lincoln and the BP Midnight Sun Festival each have a long history in the Fairbanks community. One is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, and the other has 33+ years of experience connecting Interior Alaskans with the products, services, and level of quality they most desire.

Can you guess which is which?

Though the BP Midnight Sun Festival hasn’t been around quite as long as Fairbanks’ favorite auto dealership, that didn’t stop Seekins General Manager Margaret Russell from recognizing the festival as a “good fit” for sponsorship. 

Russell has worked at Seekins for nearly as long as the dealership has been in business, and considers sponsorships to be part of the dealership’s core mission.

“It’s just a company philosophy that’s been embedded in our culture,” Russell explains, with emphasis that these efforts help give back “to the community that supports us as a business.”

Russell considers community welfare to be an even greater sponsorship benefit than company exposure.

“It’s not what exposure we get, but how much we add to the quality of life for citizens,” Russell says.

It is perhaps this attitude that led Seekins to win recognition as 2005 TIME Quality Dealer of the Year, a national award given by the National Automotive Dealership Association in cooperation with TIME magazine.

“Much of the criteria for this award is not only the success of our business but also how we support the community,” Russell recalls, like the support contributed to the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival.

The festival is a particularly exciting event to support, and has offered a way for Seekins to showcase a new Ford model that wouldn’t otherwise receive as much attention on the lot. 

“We were very excited to have the opportunity to support what we see as a world-class event,” Russell says. “I like that sense of energy that comes with the festival.”

Seekins’ mission statement reads in part, “..we are dedicated to the continuous improvement and growth in every aspect of our business and our community.”

Many thanks to Seekins Ford Lincoln for their generous contribution and recognition of the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival as a valuable Fairbanks tradition.


The annual Midnight Sun Festival relies on significant corporate and community support to transform the streets of downtown Fairbanks into a community-wide celebration of summer solstice each year.

BP leads the pack of generous donors once again as title sponsor for the festival, earning recognition in all festival promotions for the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival.

Karen Cowart, Director of Government and Public Affairs, explains that BP has a history of festival sponsorship because of the festival’s far-reaching impact in the Fairbanks community.

“We’ve been a longtime supporter of the festival,” Cowart says, “It’s really fun for the community and it shows our commitment to the community.”

Karen also sees it as a way to enhance the number of activities and events available in the hometowns of BP employees.

“We have employees who live in Fairbanks,” Cowart explains, “so we’re not only supporting the community but we’re there for our employees.”

On a webpage related to charitable giving in Alaska, BP acknowledges its role as “one of the largest private sector investors in Alaska” and reports more than $10 million in charitable giving to Alaskan nonprofits and educational efforts in 2008, the most recent data available.

Kara Nash, Events and Marketing Director for the Downtown Association of Fairbanks, relies on generous sponsorship by companies like BP each year to coordinate the festival and understands the importance of making the relationship beneficial for both partners.

“(BP has) been our title sponsor for four years,” Nash comments, “and they really appreciate that this event represents the entire state.”

Nash sees the festival from the inside out, and continues to believe that sponsorship includes unique opportunities to advertise a company’s brand. The promotional mix for this year’s festival included radio, newspaper, and Facebook advertisements as well as posters, banners, online articles, and a complimentary booth space.

“They’re putting their name on something that is unique to Fairbanks,” Nash reasons. “By recognizing how important the festival is to Fairbanks and putting your name on it- that’s how you get exposure.”

The 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival is poised to be a great success thanks in part to the generous sponsorship of BP, and future festivals will continue to rely on similar partnerships.



It’s that time of year again- the mosquitos are out, wildfires are a-blazing, and the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival is just around the corner (Sunday, June 19th from noon to midnight, to be exact).

Here are the latest festival developments:


The BP Midnight Sun Festival celebrates its thirtieth year in 2011!
Be part of Alaska’s largest single-day event by picking up your official t-shirt- on sale soon in select downtown locations.

Lime green and charcoal Anvil pre-shrunk t-shirts printed using eco-friendly techniques sport the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival logo. Buy one before the festival and wear it with pride. Vendors and members get a $5 discount on pre-festival sales.

Call 452-8671 or visit the Fairbanks Community Museum to pick up a shirt today if you simply can’t wait.


Consider joining the 2011 Midnight Sun Street Team if you’re interested in developing business and marketing skills while contributing to downtown revitalization:

The Downtown Association is seeking bright, capable, driven downtown enthusiasts
to help market the 30th annual Midnight Sun Festival.

This is your chance to temporarily join our friendly and ambitious staff
while contributing to downtown revitalization.

Specific duties include leading sales at events (baseball games, 5Ks, organizational meetings,
festivals, concerts), drumming up excitement in diverse crowds , developing an individual sales scheme,
making phone calls, visiting neighbors, coordinating spotlights at area businesses, and staffing the
Midnight Sun Festival on June 19th, 2011 (required).

Applicants must be available 10-20 hours per week leading up to the festival,
and able to work toward an individual sales goal.
No experience necessary.
Should be able/excited to pitch to the local bar scene as easily as visitors, families, or students.
Energy, charisma, and persuasion skills a plus.
Valid driver’s license required.

Earn $10 per hour.
Guidance provided by DTA staff in weekly meetings with fellow street team members.
Prize incentives for most individual sales per week.

Call 452-8671 for more details and to schedule an interview.


The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner has reserved a special section in the annual Midnight Sun Celebration insert for the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival, consisting of a four-page spread with a festival map, list of featured performances, and sponsor spotlights.

If you run a downtown business or are a festival vendor and would like to advertise in this section, contact Nava Christian of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner at 459-7595 or This is a great way to group your promotions with the 2011 BP Midnight Sun Festival, and direct festival-goers straight to your booth or business. Copies are distributed the weekend of the festival and several thousand overruns will be handed out on June 19th at the heart of the party.


Stay tuned for more festival updates coming soon!




The Downtown Market kicks off in less than a week!

Join nearly twenty vendors downtown on Monday, June 6th from 4-8pm in Golden Heart Plaza.

Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find at the inaugural market, and at most markets throughout the summer. The majority of these vendors (lucky for you) have committed to a full season of selling smoothies, tea, produce, meats, crafts, artwork, baby clothing, photography, dog treats, spices, jewelry, or souvenirs alongside the Chena River in Fairbanks’ gorgeous city center. Meet up with a friend to visit the newest hotspot of talented artists, downtown merchants, one-of-a-kind crafters, and farmers growing fresh produce close to home.

Downtown Market- Monday, June 6th
(in complete nonsensical order)

Co-Op Arts
Julia’s Solstice Cafe
McCafferty’s, A Coffee House, Etc.
Calypso Farm
Homegrown Market
Tundra Walker Studio
The Brasil Nuts
Fairbanks First
Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market
UAF Cooperative Extension Service
Aurora Babies
Alaska Wilds
Sipping Streams Tea Company
TNT Seasonings
Ruby Snacks
Aronson Designs
Project Fairbanks
Downtown Association of Fairbanks

Important market notes to keep in mind:

  • Park on 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue, in the parking garage, in the courthouse parking lot (after five) or in front of Immaculate Conception Church (bonus: you’ll get to walk across the William Ransom Wood Centennial Footbridge to the Plaza!)
  • Project Fairbanks, a nonprofit committed to fundraising and throwing great parties in the name of downtown revitalization, will accept recycling at the Downtown Market. Bring items from home or from your business, and let them do the dirty work. Clean and sorted paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, and glass are welcome. Project Fairbanks’ long-term goal is to create a sensible recycling infrastructure for downtown, and this latest initiative comes on the cusp of a recycling survey that prompted hundreds of in-depth responses.
  • Food stamps, credit cards, and debit cards will be accepted at the Downtown Association of Fairbanks booth on behalf of all market vendors. Make this booth your first stop if you plan to pay by any of these methods and you will receive tokens of equal value that will be honored by vendors. (Note: food stamp acceptance may begin at the June 13th market due to logistics)
  • The Downtown Market is still accepting vendor applications.
    If you have other creative ideas for partnering with the Downtown Market as an organization or an individual- don’t be shy. Get in touch.


The proper tool is essential to an artist’s craft- a lesson each of us can each appreciate from our use of tools in the work, habits, and hobbies of daily life. Tools of the trade can increase an artist’s precision, expand their stylistic repertoire, and even inspire entire new genres of art. Pause to consider the handheld devices used to create each work of art at this month’s First Friday, with special exhibits and activities featuring tools from early days and showcasing the results of those most prominent today. The right tool can shape steel or relax a client during a massage. Cameras, musical instruments, paintbrushes, sewing needles, tuning forks, and the most advanced  software on the market have made their mark on over twenty exhibits, activities, and performances debuting this First Friday.

Vintage & Antique Tools @ Lady Lee’s Bath House Emporium 825 1st Avenue

Yvonne Maddux & Laurie Walton @ SpruceWind Healing Arts 114 10th Avenue

Jon Holmes @ Alana’s Espresso Escape 535 2nd Avenue, Suite 101

Athabascan Clothing @ Morris Thompson Center 101 Dunkel Street

Tea Tastings @ If Only… a fine store 215 Cushman Street

Watercolors by Matt Moberly @ Fairbanks Community Museum 410 Cushman Street

Pin-Ups & Purses @ Chartreuse 729 1st Avenue

Alaskan Made @ Co-Op Arts 535 2nd Avenue, Suite 103

“Living Narratives,” Amy Komar @ Alaska House Art Gallery 1003 Cushman Street

“” by Leonard Ward @ Interior Aids Association 710 3rd Avenue

“Sculpture works- Light & Steel,” Hanna A Stevenson @ l’assiette de Pomegranate 414 2nd Avenue

Open House & Free Class @ Taoist Tai Chi Society 407 1st Avenue, Suite 219

Photography by Amber Westerlund @ The Dawg Wash 541 9th Avenue

Tom & Nelda Nixon @ S Salon & Studio 901 Cushman Street

First Friday @ The Cats Meow 212 Lacey Street

Summer Beads  @ Beads and Things 537 2nd Avenue

Free Demo Belly Dance Classes @ Space for Movement Studio 410 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

Live Music @ Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q 107 Wickersham Street

From last month:

Project Fairbanks, a nonprofit dedicated to downtown reviatlization, would like to thank those who supported The Bra (Art) Show fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Detection Center during First Friday in May. Though the bras are no longer on display, many of the pieces can still be purchased. Interested individuals should contact Sheri Olesen of Chartreuse (452-5556) and name a price.



Join us for KIN- a monthly night of networking, with a presentation by Amy Nordrum, Communications Coordinator for the Downtown Association about new and upcoming initiatives for summer 2011.

Free food from Julia’s, Bobby’s, Gambardella’s, Bahn Thai, and l’assiette de Pomegranate will make for a delicious smorgasbord. Bring business cards and meet new professionals, young and seasoned, from the Fairbanks community. This is the last KIN event of the season and we plan to make it a hit!

Be sure to come early or stay late so you can visit the Fairbanks Community Museum on the first floor of 410 Cushman Street.

Here’s the program description:

Destination : Downtown

Summer updates from the Downtown Association of Fairbanks. Details on a weekly Downtown Market, highlights of the 30th annual Midnight Sun Festival, and photo tour of new downtown businesses. All in the context of urban planning and a big-picture vision for downtown Fairbanks.


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Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska