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WEIO Games return for 60th anniversary this week at the Big Dipper

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:32 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) are scheduled to begin Wednesday and crews are busy setting up the Big Dipper Ice Arena to host the event.

Chair lines, a stage constructed, and a podium set; these and other tasks are needed to prepare for the four-day occasion.

The Games will also utilize the outdoors for several events, and a tent has been set up in the field behind the Dipper to provide shade.

Six-time volunteer Mark Raifsnider said he likes how community-oriented the games are. “Each event, they’re helping each other, like taking videos, encouraging one another. It’s just really cool to see that family atmosphere, and just helping each other. It’s about the community.”

“It’s not like the Olympics that we see every four years. Its different. It’s just different,” he added.

Competitors and spectators are encouraged to be vaccinated, though not required.

“Our overall goal is to create a wonderful environment and experience, but also to be very safe and mindful of where our people are coming from,” added WEIO Board Member Mandy Sullivan.

The Scissor Broad Jump at 11 a.m. Wednesday will kickstart four days worth of competition across over a dozen events. While winning a event can be a highlight of the games, WEIO athlete and coach Kyle Worl, of Juneau, explained why the Games are more important than who comes out on top.

“The most important part is being able to be in the presence of each other and celebrate the games,” Worl said. “That community and atmosphere is really healing for our culture and it is why we do the games and we are excited to be able to have the opportunity to come together for WEIO this year.”

The WEIO Games run from July 21st to the 24th, with free morning events beginning at 10:00 a.m. Events surrounding the Games on Wednesday include the opening ceremony at 6 p.m., Miss WEIO pageant at 7:30 p.m. and an appearance from Molly of Denali on PBS.

Evening events begin at 5:00 p.m, and carry an admission fee of $15.

More information, as well as a full schedule of events, can be found here.

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