World Eskimo-Indian Olympics preview
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It is one week away from the 61st World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO). The event is hosted in Fairbanks at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. The ice has been taken out and between the boards is being transformed to host the event.
The event started in 1961 with different cities from Alaska participating. When the first event took off, it became an annual event.
Historically, WEIO has started on the third Wednesday in July, but this year, it will be held a week early. This decision came after a required time needed to build a new, fresh sheet of ice for the coming hockey camps that will be hosted at the Big Dipper the week following.
“Although we’ve lost a week of frantic planning time, but I think we’re in good standing to be ready for Wednesday,” said WEIO Chair, Gina Kalloch on the earlier schedule. WEIO will take place July 13-16 this year.
Day time events will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are free to attend. Evening events will require an entrance fee (only bought at the gate/not in advance). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the events starting at 6:00 p.m. and will conclude around 10 p.m. Events will take place both inside the arena, and in the field adjacent of the Big Dipper.
“WEIO is a celebration of Alaska Native culture,” said Kalloch. “Our purpose is to preserve and promote the cultural traditions of Alaska’s native people, and that includes: dance, arts, athletic events. It’s a big celebration of all those things.”
Kalloch also dubbed WEIO as an unofficial “family reunion” because it brings so many people back to the same place every year. Some have even been coming back since the inaugural games in 1961. This is also a public event. Everyone in the public is invited to attend.
“When we have a celebration like this... it give people a chance to be in touch with traditions that have lasted for centuries,” stated Kalloch. “To share those with people who may have never seen some of these activities before... it keeps these traditions alive in the 21st century.”
The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics have taken place every year since (except a 2020 COVID cancellation). Those competing and attending can expect fewer COVID-related restrictions this year. Last year, there were vaccination and mask requirements for certain events that required close contact. There was a limited number of people allowed on the floor last year, and those rules have been loosened too. World Eskimo-Indian Olympics will follow current borough protocols, but still highly encourage to be as safe as possible while attending in any capacity.
For more information about WEIO, the 2022 schedule, ticket pricing and more, visit their official website: https://www.weio.org/
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