Attendees gather before a stage where The Jangle Bees play during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees gather before a stage where The Jangle Bees play during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

‘We’re about community’

Moose Pass throws 45th annual Summer Solstice Festival

Music, festivities and sunshine could be seen and heard just about anywhere in Moose Pass last weekend as 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice filled out the space in front of their community center with music, food, games and vendors.

Organizers for the event called it a unique get-together for the small town, as well as a major attraction for visitors and a fundraiser for the town and its residents.

Brooke Estes, auction chairperson, said Monday that because the community of Moose Pass is unincorporated and doesn’t have a governing body, the Moose Pass Sportsmen’s Club acts as something of a guiding presence. The club owns the community hall and supports the town’s library and fire department. They also put on events like a Santa Claus appearance near Christmas and celebrations of New Year’s Day and Halloween.

The solstice festival is held annually on the third weekend in June, not necessarily on the weekend of the solstice, and is the town’s largest fundraiser. Information on Facebook says the annual event is held “as a means to operate the town of Moose Pass.”

Estes said that money raised at the event goes back into the community — to the school, to the fire department and other needs.

Mary Sandy, the club’s treasurer, has been helming the festival for the last three years. She said of the revenue, 20% is directed toward scholarships, and the other funds are spent wherever they are needed.

“We support the community,” Sandy said. “If there’s a need, we’re there.”

An ongoing focus is development of the community center as an emergency shelter for the winter — especially for times when the power is out. Recently, the club also donating to get a subdivision paved in hopes of seeing it added as a borough-maintained road.

Saturday night, Sandy said around 500 people showed up. The crowd danced before a stage where The Jangle Bees, the Tyson James Band and others performed. Cheeseburgers were grilled nearby, and well over a dozen vendors filled a space selling crafts, art, event merch and popcorn.

To put on the event, planning begins as much as six months in advance, an art contest is held to create a logo design and a community potluck rings in the final push to set up tables and tents.

On Saturday, within the hall, a bake sale with locally made treats was running and an array of items were up for silent auction. Estes said the silent auction was a precursor to another live auction, and ultimately this year was “one of, if not the most successful” auctions held at the festival.

Volunteers and residents gather for the event, Estes said. She said everyone has busy lives, and even neighbors might only see one another once a year at the festival. Travelers, too, gather for the event.

“It’s a fundraiser, yes, but it really is coming together.”

Sandy echoed that sentiment, saying the festival offers a “family-oriented community gathering,” also saying that it’s the one day a year where its possible to see everybody.

It’s only sweeter when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Sandy said this year’s festival was blessed with two great summer days.

The festival also doubles as an introduction for people to the town of Moose Pass, Sandy said. The club is “trying to keep our little town alive.” That means finding reasons to convince people to stop and explore, like the installation of history boards created in collaboration with the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area and the development of a walking tour.

Ultimately, Sandy said the goal is to get people to understand what Moose Pass is about, with the hopes of getting their help in preserving it.

“We’re about community.”

In service of that effort, Sandy says she has plenty of ideas to see the festival grow and improve, and the club is also putting on more events, like a recently debuted Winter Solstice Festival.

For more information, find “Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival” on Facebook or visit sportsmensclub.moosepassalaska.com.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

People converge towards the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

People converge towards the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees gather before a stage where the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees gather before a stage where the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Dillon Diering and Sarah Overholt dance while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Dillon Diering and Sarah Overholt dance while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees dance and smile while the Tyson James Band performs during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Jangle Bees perform during the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

People converge towards the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

People converge towards the 45th Annual Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival in Moose Pass on Saturday, June 15. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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