ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - With warmer weather returning to the Last Frontier, dozens of students and families spend their Saturday afternoon celebrating the return of spring at a traditional Russian festival in the Romig Middle School gym.
Known in Russia as Maslenitsa, or “pancake week”, the festival celebrates the end of winter with pancakes, a symbol of the returning sun. West High teacher Elena Kostenko-Farkas, who helps organize the annual event, says Anchorage has adopted its own unique version of the tradition. She says the event is also an opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity in Alaska and the state’s shared history with Russia.
“Because we're the Russian immersion program, we not only introduce the language to the students, we also introduce the culture,” she said. “We have some landmarks that are left in Alaska by the Russian explorers and the Russian people and we have the combination of American culture that came after that.”
This year’s event featured a pancake eating contest as well as a traditional Russian folk band from Saint Petersburg. Elementary students also performed a series of traditional Russian dances. A tug-of-war competition, and a “farewell-to-winter procession” marked the end of the event.