FAMILY FUN — Cousins Asaaluk Nichols and Kaitlyn Painter dance together during the performance of the King Island Dance Group.

Berry Festival was a sweet success

Nome’s summer of rain culminated in a very wet Berry Festival last Saturday, but no complaints were heard as the community huddled in the Rec Center for a joyful event showcasing 64 local performers and artisans.
Luxury cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen docked in Nome the previous day after a trip up the Northwest Passage, dropping off passengers and waiting to pick up a new group flying in Saturday. Visitors flooded the festival, a record year for both guests and vendors, said Barb Nickels, economic development specialist at Kawerak and organizer of the event.
Nome’s abundant craftmanship and artistry was displayed through rows of baked goods and jams, tables covered in beaded art and jewelry, garments knit from qiviut, wooden carved spoons and various ivory carvings.
Nome-Beltz sports teams were also in attendance selling goods to raise money for their respective seasons.
The MS Roald Amundsen visitors, clad in the signature red and highlighter yellow jackets, browsed the wares of the Berry Festival and mingled with local Nomeites. Many were seen leaving with bags of food and art, bringing a taste of Nome back home.
Cathie and Jim Greene from Oklahoma arrived in Nome after the 16-day cruise from Vancouver. Docking in Nome a day early due to stormy weather conditions allowed them to see the city for a longer period of time.
“We’ve been on an Alaskan cruise before but it was with one of the bigger cruise lines, Norwegian,” Cathie said. “Every place we stopped was a big tourist trap, with the same five shops on the pier,” said Jim.
The couple emphasized how different their experience on the Roald Amundsen was. They saw lots of wildlife and were able to interact with many local communities like their experience in Nome.
When asked what they thought about Nome the Greenes hesitated. “It’s definitely still a frontier town,” said Jim. “It [Nome] doesn’t have the cute, curb-appeal that some other places do, but it’s still nice, people are really friendly,” said Cathie.
Thorsten, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, from Scandinavia took the cruise with his family. He said the cruise was a beautiful experience full of nature, good weather and interesting sights.
“Nome was really great,” Thorsten said, “Because we arrived a little earlier than expected we had a little bit of time to do a hike in the tundra, we even found two musk oxen.”
Sandra McLan flew into Nome the morning of the Berry Festival, spending time in town before boarding the ship for her cruise. She was very happy to arrive in Nome the day of the festival. “It’s great to see all the locals gathered having a good time,” said McLan “It seems to be a very unique place.”
 Performances occurred throughout the festival which went from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The stage set up in the center of the Rec Center gym hosted performers: Miss Chief, Buffle Heads with Ian McRae and Jim Abbott sitting in for Dave Coler with special guest Shira Tomboulian, King Island Dance Group, Usual Suspects, Nome/Saint Lawrence Island Dance Group and Andrea Irrigoo.
The famous Nome band Usual Suspects made up by Gary Lane, Jim Abbott, Mat Michels and Nick Bloodgood reunited for the Berry Festival. Abbott traveled from Seattle and Lane came from Soldotna.
At the end of the King Island Dance Group’s performance, they gestured to the crowd, encouraging people to join in for the last dance, creating a joyous communal show in front of the stage.
Keeping with the ‘berry’ theme, Northrim bank donated berry pickers which were handed out to people during the festival.


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

External Links

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed