Colony Days celebration is this weekend in downtown Palmer. It is always the second weekend in June and it is always a big and happy production. Friday, Saturday and Sunday have dozens and dozens of events lined up. This weekend’s activities are organized by the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce, which has produced a substantial schedule of events, available at their website.
Big Weekend—There are many Palmer area people who have ties to the old, “colony” families, who were transported to Alaska to build a community. This federally funded project was in the 1930’s and it was considered a fascinating agriculture experiment. The stories are both curious and impressive because of the hard work, perseverance and dedication of the newcomers to this part of Alaska. The Annual “Colony Days” celebration offers a glimpse of history, through the colonizers’ eyes. You will see tractor pulls, music jams, tent city market, dunk tanks, sidewalk chalk drawing, historic walking tours, bed races, corn hole tournaments, antique farm equipment displays, craft fairs, kite demonstrations, community picnics, bike safety exhibits and races, rock and birdhouse painting, flower planting, rhubarb recipes, car shows, safety and community outreach, kids games, and of course a really big parade. The Colony House Museum is located in the historic district of Palmer at 316 Elmwood Ave. It is a unique and lovely restoration of one of the Colony Houses, which displayed rural life in the Matanuska Valley in the 1930s and 1940s.
More History—It is important to realize that the 1930 Colonization project was NOT the beginning of history in our valley. Homesteaders, naturalists, miners, traders, trappers, military and adventurers preceded the establishment of the Palmer Colony. But even more important is the recognition that the Dena’ina and Ahtna Athabaskan Native peoples lived on this land prior to any settlement, expansion, ownership (and in some cases exploitation) of our Matanuska Valley. Bringing up this subject sometimes results in uncomfortable discussions, but it shouldn’t: we are all a product of our history and knowing our community’s full and complete history is valuable. Let’s celebrate and honor all of the achievements. And let’s learn critical lessons from our mistakes.
Gratitude Wall, Native Marketplace and Community Art—This is a wonderful and inclusive activity outside of the Palmer Depot. Anyone can have their photo taken on a polaroid camera. Then the photo will be laminated and turned into a flower, with leaves explaining what they personally love about Palmer. It will be a community art project and by the end of the day there will be a full wall of gratitude from everyone. Chickaloon Village, Knik Tribal Council and the South Central Foundation are hosting a a Native Marketplace and a Beaded Art Contest and games inside the Train Depot. The Chickaloon Cultural interpreters will be at the Museum along with larger cultural exhibits honoring history in our Matanuska Valley.
Peace In Palmer—It is significant to note that the weekend activities start off at the Peace Pole in the Palmer Museum Garden. This will be an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement presented by the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce. What a beautiful act of love, respect and honor, this is.
Stay safe Palmer! Look for rainbows and enjoy our big weekend!
Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff on the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group. Email email@example.com or text at 907.315.3222