Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska
chena river



Tired Iron is honoring its vintage roots by dropping 5,000 neon ping pong balls onto the Chena River on Saturday, February 23rd in a kid-friendly scramble that will have tiny race fans rushing to grab the most balls and win a mini 120cc snow machine from Northern Power Sports or one of 49 other prizes.

It’s called the Spring Ping Fling, and is a spinoff of a historical event in Fairbanks intended to get locals to buy more groceries from a local store owner Paul Gavora. Market Basket, a former grocery store in town, once hosted a promotion along with Libby’s Food that attached a pack of six ping pong balls to every case of food or goods sold within a limited time. From there, the idea developed to drop thousands of these balls from a helicopter and offer prizes (like a shopping spree at Market Basket) to those who found one of a limited number of balls painted in silver or gold. Like so many of Fairbanks’ best ideas, this one stuck purely for its departure from convention. Ping pong balls rained from the sky on May 3, 1968.

In the original celebration, the majority of ping pong balls could be redeemed for a half gallon of Carnation ice cream. This year, Tired Iron will distribute 2,000 Klondike bars to kids and fans on the Chena River as a throwback to the first ping pong ball drop in Fairbanks.

“We passed out ice cream like it was going out of style,” David Weaver, Co-Organizer of Tired Iron (and son of Earl Weaver, store manager of Market Basket) says of his memories of the 1968 event. “It was a really cool event and the only one we ever had. I was thirteen years old and had never seen so many people in one place.” He hopes to draw many families to the Chena River on February 23rd for the big drop.

Technique could determine a kid’s likelihood of scoring top prizes, and David suggests scooping up as many balls as possible into yellow bags provided by Tired Iron. He says kids can wait until the frenzy has died down to sort through their balls and match them to a prize board.

“It’s geared toward the kids and we are trying our best to mix centenarians with newborns,” David says. The ping fling is open to kids between the ages of 5-12, though he encourages the public to come and watch the drop while enjoying a full schedule of weekend race events for the Tired Iron and Iron Dog. Prizes range from snowboards to educational items like Nooks and tablets. The drop is sponsored by Frontier Outfitters and Woolly Rhino. David has enlisted the help of local firefighters to make the drop onto the Chena River from a fire truck parked at Immaculate Conception Church.


Saturday, February 23rd 2013

2:30-3:00PM (approximate)


Chena River

in front of Immaculate Conception Church



chena river



The 2012 Iron Dog is back and ready to traverse 2,000 miles by snow machine from Big Lake, AK to downtown Fairbanks. Iron Dog teams look forward to another exhilarating sprint to the Chena River, and race fans in Fairbanks have the best seats in the house for a world-class finish.

“We hope to be there on time this year,” jokes Kevin Kastner, Executive Director, after heavy snow and stormy weather caused several delays in the 2011 race.

This year’s Pro Class Finish is scheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday, February 25th. This time is approximate, and race fans should check the Iron Dog website as GPS trackers help form a close estimate of arrival times for all teams. The race finish will be broadcast on Channel 2 KTUU through television and the KTUU website.

New for this year is the Iron Dog raffle, a fundraiser for a program called Alaska’s Healing Hearts that serves Alaska veterans. The grand prize drawing will take place in conjunction with the Iron Dog finish on the Chena River. Five winners will be drawn just before the first team arrives, receiving prizes like a 2012 Polaris Rush PRO R 600, a Hawaiian vacation for two, and a year’s supply of NOS energy drinks.

The grand prize winner scores a 2012 Toyota Tundra and will be announced right after the first team cruises past the finish line. You don’t have to be present to win, but it’s much better if you are. Tickets ($60; only 2,000 available) will be sold at race headquarters at the Marriott Hotel on 1st Avenue until noon on Saturday. Fans can also call (907)563-4414 to purchase tickets.

Kevin encourages race enthusiasts to use the Iron Dog Facebook page to post videos, photos, stories, or ask questions about the race, though he cautions recreational users to avoid the river on Saturday for their safety and the safety of competitors.

Just like in years past, the Iron Dog and Tired Iron take place at the same time, allowing snow machine enthusiasts to enjoy both events simultaneously.

“We’re tied together with the Tired Iron so there will be a little racing to watch before we start that morning,” Kevin points out. Just after the Iron Dog finish, the “Wired Iron” races for kids on 120cc sleds will heat up – making for a full day of snow machine guts and glory.


The Tired Iron is a series of races for sled heads who prefer “throwback” models crafted before 1980. This year, races are schedule for Saturday, February 25th from 10:00am-3:00pm and Sunday, February 26th from 11am-3:30pm.

The Tired Iron has a reputation for being a bit more… irreverent… than most races. Race divisions include the Jurassic Classic, a ride “intended for sleds no faster than 25 MPH, and for drivers that still have their faculties, but not necessarily their original teeth, hips, or knees,” as stated in the official rules. The Wet Iron and Fun Run, for liquid and air cooled sleds respectively, follow a 24-mile river track and are two of the most popular.

“The Classic and the Wet Iron are getting very competitive. The most popular is the Fun Run because normal people get to get out and ride,” David comments.

Speaking of friendly competition, David says rivalries continue to grow among old-timers who have competed in Tired Iron for years. One race veteran, Urban Rahol, recently traveled to Michigan just to pick up a 1965 Polaris sled for the race. He drove it back to Fairbanks in the bed of his truck.

David chuckles while remembering a recent conversation amongst competitors, “I heard one 90+ guy about the other 90+ guy say, ‘I’m cleaning his clock this year.'”

Tired Iron is one of the most family-friendly events in downtown Fairbanks, due in large part to the dozens of contests and activities hosted on the river between races. New games include Human Moose Turd Bowling, in which contestants slide down an ice track in a saucer to knock down brown bowling pins. In another new event, a portable restroom with door removed will serve as the target for a wedge shot with a golf club, and extra points go to anyone who makes it in the urinal. A Mini-Arctic Man competition for kids simulates the big race with a short ski down a small ramp, a hookup to a snow machine, and three loops around a circle at the center of the river for the grand prize.


Alaska BBQ Association hosts the Alaska BRRRRBQ on Saturday, February 25th in the courthouse parking lot at the corner of 1st Avenue and Lacey Street. Teams are invited to compete for the best pork ribs and/or chicken BBQ.


Parking is available in the lots at Immaculate Conception Church, The Big I Pub & Lounge, the courthouse, Mt. McKinley Bank, and in the parking garage with entrance on 3rd Avenue. On-street parking is also available, and fans are welcome to use the Sadler’s parking lot on Cushman Street if others are full.


Saturday, February 25th 10:00am- 3:00pm

Sunday, February 26th 11:00am- 3:30pm


Chena River

Downtown Fairbanks



chena river

2012 Iron Dog @ Chena River


Don’t miss the Iron Dog finish this Saturday, downtown on the Chena River right below Centennial Footbridge! Watch the lead teams of this grueling 2,000+ mile snow machine race sprint to glory in the final leg of their trip.

Updates and full schedule available on the Iron Dog’s official website.

Here’s the breakdown for the day from that site:

Saturday, February 25th: Pro Class Finish

  • 9:00 am | Tired Iron races.
  • 11:30 am | Iron Dog starts moving in to setup for the Finish.
  • Approximately 1:00 pm | 1st Place team should be getting close to the end of the race.
  • 5:00 pm | We start wrapping up most of the big Finish activities and head for the award ceremonies.
  • Late night | After party at Pike’s Landing!


Saturday, February 25th approx. 1:00pm


(907) 563-4414


chena river

2012 Tired Iron @ Chena River

Tired Iron, an annual celebration of vintage snow machines, has teamed up with Iron Dog and will offer a full schedule of weekend activities right next to the Iron Dog finish. That means you can attend two great events at once!

2012 Tired Iron schedule is as follows, from the official website:

SATURDAY February 25, 2012 – RACES & EVENTS

10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
“Radar Run”
(Held from the Wendell St. Bridge to the Steese Expressway Bridge, in front of Graehl Landing)
11:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Sideline Games/Events
(These events take place between the Finish line and just below the Cushman St Bridge)
11:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
“Jurassic Classic”
(Starts at the Start/Finish line in front of the Golden Heart Plaza)
1:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
“2011 Iron Dog” Finish
(Timed “Hot” finish ends just downriver from the Wendell St. Bridge, near the confluence of the Noyes Slough. Then they proceed downriver, in a shutdown mode, to the Centennial Footbridge, exiting the river on the south bank into Griffin Park for Photo Op.)
1:30 P.M. (or 30 minutes after 1st place Iron Dog team finishes) till 3:00 P.M.
“Wired Iron”
(Junior’s race 120 cc sleds on smaller course, between the Start/Finish line in front of the Golden Heart Plaza and the Centennial Footbridge)
6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Drivers’/Safety Meeting at Elk’s
(Short Order food and drinks are available)

SUNDAY February 26, 2012  – RACES & EVENTS

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 noon
“Tired Iron Classic”
(24 mile river race for Air Cooled sleds through 1979 model year)
11:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Sideline Games/Events
(These events take place between the Finish line and just below the Cushman St Bridge)
12:30 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.
“Wet Iron”
(24 mile river race for Liquid Cooled sleds through 1979 model year)
2:00 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.
“Fun Run”
(24 mile river race for Air Cooled sleds through 1979 model year)
6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Awards Banquet at Elk’s
(Short Order food and drinks are available)


Saturday, February 25th 10:00am – 8:00pm

Sunday, February 26th 12:00pm – 8:00pm



chena river


Though you may float the Chena in a canoe, kayak, or inner tube, you can never experience the river quite like a rubber duck during the annual Golden Days Rubber Duckie race, or a watercraft in the 15th Annual Red Green Regatta.

That’s why we’ve written our promotion of these events as a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story, complete with parallel narratives depending on whether you fancy yourself a rubber duck or a duct taped watercraft.

Choose wisely- and proceed.

Chapter 1- ARRIVAL

If you picked a rubber duck- You arrive in downtown Fairbanks on Saturday, July 23rd tangled in a net with 5,999 of  your closest friends. You soon find yourself suspended from Wendall Street Bridge awaiting your 2:30pm dump into the (freezing cold) Chena River. Accustomed to long months in a storage container, this is not how you typically spend a Saturday morning.

If you picked a Red Green Regatta vessel- You arrive at Graehl Landing in downtown Fairbanks on Sunday, July 24th around 10am for registration. Fellow watercraft are poised in trailers and pickup beds, looking intimidatingly swift and buoyant. Luckily, your own duct tape construction has been reinforced with inner tubes and milk jugs- both techniques stolen from last year’s crafty floaters.

Chapter 2- LAUNCH

If you’re a rubber duck- You plunge twenty feet into the frigid Chena waters, and come close to drowning as several hundred fellow contestants land atop you. Luckily, your rubber duck instincts help you pop up and stay afloat. Your beady-eye vision is too narrow to make out the thousands of spectators lining the banks and bridges, so all you see is a mass of bright yellow bobbing before you.

If you’re a Regatta vessel- Chaos ensues as launch time approaches, and your captain does a fair bit of elbowing to get you in the water- fast. The Regatta mantra of “It’s not a race- it’s about getting from one end to the other” seems to have escaped him. It seems your captain’s got a bit of a competitive edge in this annual “friend-raiser” for KUAC.

Chapter 3- THE FLOAT

If you’re a rubber duck- The Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce has marked you with a number to pair your placing in the race with a ticket holder, and thousands of dollars are at stake based on your performance. That said, you can only float so fast. So while the crowd’s jeers and cheers keep you plenty anxious and looking for breaks through which to maneuver with the best of plastic finesse, you’re not feeling particularly competitive.

If you’re a Regatta vessel- You’re cruising down the river, flag waving and duct tape holding strong, when a sudden collision with a makeshift pirate boat perched atop garbage cans leaves you springing a leak in your inner tube “hull.” Your captain is oblivious while he swordfights the pirates with a piece of PVC pipe he’s been using for a paddle. After a noticeable dip, he starts to unlash the faulty inner tube from the rest of the craft. You’ll have to make it to Pioneer Park -with thick crowds of people watching- on two tubes and a half dozen milk jugs.

Chapter 4- FINISH and TAKE OUT

If you’re a rubber duck- Nudging your way through a gap just before you pass under the Cushman St. bridge, you find yourself within stride of a first place finish. The ten duckies between you and the finish line are in close range. A lucky push by a sudden wave plops you down in front just as the course funnels to a close, making you the 2011 winner of the Golden Days Rubber Duckie Race. You can hardly believe it when you’re plucked out of the water  to cries of “FIRST PLACE!”

If you’re a Regatta vessel- Paddle though he might, your captain and his PVC pipe can’t keep up with the best of ‘em, and you finish behind a collection of ragtag ruffians including pair of couches and a cardboard kayak adorned with floaties. Real prizes are awarded based on flair, though, and not order of finish. Your captain struggles to pull you ashore and falls back to rest on the bank after heaving you up to the Pioneer Park take-out.


If you’re a rubber duck- Excitement abounds for your first place finish as you’re tossed up and around to have your number checked, double checked, and recorded. The ticket holder who matches that number will soon be privy to $10,000 and the rubber duck glory will be yours for the next year. Which seems pretty fair to you- you can’t think of a single thing you would buy with $10,000.

If you’re a Regatta vessel- Your position on the bank of the Chena is the best place to watch the other vessels float in. Once all are accounted for, spectators assemble for the awards ranging from a canoe to assorted items from Compeau’s. More colorful prizes are also handed out for “Best Viewed from a Distance” and “Judge’s Choice.” You and your captain don’t claim any winnings this year, but look forward to another round of the Regatta in 2012.

Don’t miss either of these spectacular events- and the stories that follow- this weekend during the 2011 Golden Days celebration in downtown Fairbanks!

Click here for a full schedule of downtown Golden Days events.

Picture from Traveling with Andrew and Jennifer

chena river


Park downtown then walk to the Immaculate Conception Church on the Chena River by 6 PM to catch the start of the Visitor Industry’s Walk for Charity this Friday the 13th.   The walk ends at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.  The Parking Garage is central to the start and finish and the 3-hour rate is only $3.  Enter the garage from 3rd Avenue.

The registration fee for the walk is $30 for an adult and can be paid at the event. To register ahead of time or to get more information, call Charity at 459-3791 or Karen at 459-3758. If you have not already settled on a recipient organization, please consider walking for the Downtown Association of Fairbanks Community Services to support downtown promotions, events and the operations of the Community Service Patrol.

chena river


Fairbanks Paddle & Pedal

Fairbanks Paddle & Pedal


Get outside, in town! We are a fourth generation, family-run day tour operator providing the best boating, dining, cycling, history and relaxation Fairbanks has to offer. An easy float and bicycle sightseeing trip, this tour is designed for any skill level. We can customize length and time to fit your needs. We can even paddle in the midnight sun! Call for more information and to book a tour.

Learn more about Fairbanks Paddle & Pedal.


chena river


A long and treacherous Iron Dog came to a close this weekend on the Chena River, as Chris Olds and Tyler Huntington sped by Todd Palin and Eric Quam just hours before the finish in downtown Fairbanks.

This year’s 2000-mile snow machine race was burdened by lots of snowfall and sudden winter storms. The crowd turnout on the Chena River at around 6 p.m. on Saturday, just before Olds and Huntington raced in for their title, was a great show of support for these hard-working teams.

Several hundred fans leaned against the railing of Centennial Footbridge and lined the fence around the official finish line. People from all ages burst into applause and shouts at the first glimpse of Huntington and Olds, who quickly dismounted their sleds, embraced, and turned to greet the throngs of fans and media waiting in the cold.

The Tired Iron (read a great recap here) enjoyed similar success. This year’s two-day event had scores of activities for children as well as vintage snow machine races for those loyal to their pre-1979 sleds.

Kids got a chance to race, too, and their competitions were in full swing on Saturday afternoon. Little boys in big helmets and racing jackets lined up their snow machines under the footbridge. The small course for the “Wired Iron” Juniors Race required three laps, and it was soon apparent that a young girl would give these boys a run for their money.

Those children without a miniature snow machine enjoyed sliding down the banks of the Chena (on sleds or their bottoms), or being launched down a cleared section of river ice by the giant slingshot in an inner tube (the popular “Kid-a-Pult Curling”).

Big Daddy’s BarB-Q provided hot dogs and pulled pork all day long out of a tent in the Golden Heart Plaza.

Congratulations to these two fabulous winter events- it was great to have you downtown!

Help us plan for next year. Take a short survey about the events this past weekend.

chena river


Downtown Fairbanks will host a variety of high-energy and popular snow machine races this weekend! Come out to watch the finish, support the teams, join the river games, and spend a day on the (frozen) river.


Race update: The Iron Dog finish has been rescheduled for around 6 p.m. on Saturday because of weather conditions, but check their website for the most up-to-date time.

Don’t miss the Iron Dog finish this Saturday, downtown on the Chena River right below Centennial Footbridge! Watch the lead teams of this grueling 2,000+ mile snow machine race sprint to glory in the final leg of their trip. 22 teams remain in the pro class, and their standings have been switching almost as fast as the online GPS tracking system can record.

The first teams are expected to arrive in Fairbanks around 1pm on Saturday.

This is sure to draw a crowd, so come early and find your spot!


Tired Iron, an annual celebration of vintage snow machines, has teamed up with Iron Dog and will offer a full schedule of weekend activities right next to the Iron Dog finish. That means you can attend two great events at once!

Tired Iron will host events on the river in front of Golden Heart Plaza on Saturday from 11am-4pm and Sunday from 11am-3:30pm.

The schedule is as follows:

Races are in bold

starting at 11am- Kid-a-Pult Curling
starting at 11am- Dogsled Rides for kids
11:30am -12:30pm- Jurassic Classic
12-1:30pm- Potato Gun Softball
12:15pm- Sani-Can Porta Potty Olympics
12:30-1:30pm- Mini Arctic Man Contest
1-4pm- Iron Dog Finish
approx. 1:30pm- Wired Iron (Junior’s race)
12:30-2:30pm- Fairbanks Offroad Lions Big Tug-o-War

SUNDAY (2/27)

11am- 12pm- Tired Iron Classic
12:30- 1:30p
m- Wet Iron
pm- Fun Run

Click here for full descriptions of all races and events.

See you downtown!

chena river


Radar Run, Wired Iron, Jurassic Classic, Wet Iron…

What, might you ask, are all of these colorful words about?

None other than the 5th Annual Fairbanks Tired Iron!

The vintage snow machine race is back.

Bigger, better than ever, and in a new location on the Chena River in the heart of downtown Fairbanks.

The Tired Iron, celebrates the snow machine (the older the better), recognizes the many different makes and models, and has come up with ingenious categories for these amazing, restored machines to compete in. On February 27th and 28th downtown will be filled with a wide variety of snow machine competitions and activities. If you have a vintage machine you’d like to race, now is the time! Go to their new website at for entry forms, maps of the courses, sponsorship opportunities and more. 

Snow machines are an integral part of Alaska history. With such little infrastructure in our wild, sub-arctic climate, rivers become roads for snow machines during the winter months. These snow machines and river roads have allowed people access locations all across our great state. Dedicated to showcasing this history, the Tired Iron allows people to share their stories and then race their vintage snow machines on the “River Rally Race Track”, on the Chena River.

However, this event is not without a sense of humor. The annual “Fun Run”, featuring all shapes and sizes of snow machines of yesteryear (with few exceptions the snow machines have to pre date 1975), is less race and more red-green regatta. And this year’s Tired Iron is also adding plenty of carnival like fun on Saturday February 27th, at the new “Downtown River Party” from Noon until 2 pm, with activities such as the Kid-a-Polt, Bunny Boot Golf Contest, and the Turkey Toss & Shot Put. Try your hand at these amusing, unusual contests and maybe you’ll win big!   All proceeds benefit the Presbyterian Hospitality House.

So come on Downtown watch the races and play some games, or better yet, sign up to compete!

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Downtown Association of Fairbanks – Fairbanks Alaska