Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Holidays (and some New Deals)


Congratulations! You've survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.

Ready to just treat yourself and your loved ones to some laid-back, no-pressure deals on something everyone can enjoy? Good, because we're having a sale!

Here's what's new from us this holiday season:

*  SPECIAL DEALS  *  Just for December, we're dropping the prices on our DVDs. Yes, we're rolling back prices $5 each on Alaska Far Away, Where the River Matanuska Flows, and the gift set of both films. Those savings can really add up, especially when you're shopping for your whole list!
*  NEW ITEMS * We're particularly excited to offer a very special book this holiday season.  When we started conducting research for Alaska Far Away back in 1994, we found ourselves relying heavily on a handful of books, most of which are out of print. Well, we were delighted to find a stash of one of those invaluable books, and are offering copies to you this holiday season at a bargain rate, as long as the limited supplies last.

Originally published in 1955, and out of print since the most recent edition in 1980, Matanuska Valley Memoir is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Matanuska Valley, and the Matanuska Colony. The book includes the history of the Valley from 1741 to 1955, with an emphasis on agriculture, the Matanuska Colony, and the role of various government and financial institutions in the development of the Valley. Matanuska Valley Memoir is based on published and unpublished materials and personal accounts by longtime residents. If you like books about Alaska and Matanuska history, this book should be in your collection. Only $10 each, while supplies last.
Matanuska Valley Memoir: The Story of How One Alaskan Community Developed, by Hugh A. Johnson and Keith L. Stanton. Bulletin 18, 3rd edition, 1980. Originally published July 1955. Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station: Palmer, Alaska.

* ONE MORE DEAL *   When you make any purchase this month - any of our films, or Matanuska Valley Memoir, you can get a copy of Matanuska Colony 75th Anniversary Scrapbook for only $5. Yes, only FIVE DOLLARS. Such a deal!

Matanuska Colony 75th Anniversary Scrapbook is a lovingly-compiled treasure-trove of photographs and memories from the early days of the colony, by Lynette Lehn and Lori Kirker of Alaskana Books. We only have a few copies left, and when they're gone, they're gone. So get them now while you can!
And, last but not least:

*  FREE SHIPPING  *  Once again, we are offering free shipping throughout December, anywhere in the U.S. This is our annual gift to you!

This is all good news for you. 

We have also updated our shopping page on this website: check it out! Always feel free to email us at alaskafaraway (@) if you have questions or problems placing an order.

Thank you for your support. Wishing you a very happy holiday season.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome to the Alaska State Fair!

Greetings from beautiful Palmer, Alaska, where the Alaska State Fair opened yesterday. There's an old saying that if you don't like the weather in Alaska, wait five minutes, and it will change. That saying proved itself yesterday, as the skies changed every five minutes, from a glorious sunrise, to thunder and rain, to mild and sunny, to cold and wildly windy, to, finally, one of the world's most spectacular sunsets, followed by a late-night treat: the Northern Lights. Temperatures in Palmer plunged to 34 degrees overnight, but today dawned bright and clear, and we're ready for a spectacular day at the Fair.

We're back again in the historic Wineck Barn (just inside the Red Gate), where we are showing Alaska Far Away daily at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m., and our other Matanuska Colony films (including the popular Where the River Matanuska Flows) daily at 12:30. Stop by to watch our films, check out the fantastic displays by the Palmer Historical Society (more on those in another post), or just say hello.

The sweet peas are already 8 feet tall, and smell heavenly as you walk by them to enter the Barn.

On opening day we were delighted to greet visitors from all over, but were particularly pleased that so  many members of Matanuska Colony families stopped by to chat. Earl Wineck, son of colonist Ed Wineck, who built the Wineck Barn, came up from Anchorage for his annual visit with us. It is always a pleasure to sit down with Earl and hear his stories of growing up in the Colony, as well as his subsequent adventures throughout Alaska and the world. We look forward to his return next week to take part in Senior Joke and Storytelling Day in the Wineck Barn.
Earl Wineck and his wife Rebecca with Palmer Historical Society president Sheri Hamming and her daughter Samantha (above), and with Joanie Juster (below)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Happy 80th Anniversary, Matanuska Colony!

This weekend families are gathering in Palmer, Alaska for Colony Days, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Matanuska Colony.

Twenty years ago, in June 1995, we traveled to Palmer to begin principle filming for Alaska Far Away at the 60th anniversary reunion. We filmed people at the Colony Days parade, at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, in the historic Wineck Barn, in their homes, at the Depot and the Colony Inn in downtown Palmer, and anywhere else we could get them to stand still long enough to share their stories. We filmed them on Friday as they arrived at registration for the weekend's events, at the "mug-up," where they sat and chatted over mugs of coffee, at the big reunion dinner and dance on Saturday night, and at the casual barbecue that ended the weekend's festivities on Sunday.

The interviews and footage we shot during that reunion formed the foundation of Alaska Far Away.  Footage from that 1995 Colony Days parade opens the film (seen in the trailer, here: That weekend introduced us to the heart and soul of the community, and so we have spent the past twenty years making our films and showing them all over the country, to share those stories, and that community, with the world.

This weekend, we salute the folks in Palmer, Alaska, and all others who were part of the bold government experiment that was the Matanuska Colony. We feel privileged to have played a part in preserving their heritage.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On the air again: More broadcasts

There are few things more gratifying to a filmmaker than to show your film to a live audience. We've been blessed with many opportunities for live screenings: film festivals from Alaska to Northern Ireland; community screenings from coast to coast in theatres, schools, colleges, churches, libraries, and historical societies; and, of course, our repeated visits to the Alaska State Fair, where we are honored to show our films several times a day in an historic Matanuska Colony barn. Nothing compares with being able to watch an audience become engrossed in your film, and to answer their questions and discuss it with them afterwards. 

But films can also be shown on television, and Alaska Far Away has developed a life of its own on the public television circuit. Thanks to the good folks at KAKM/Alaska Public Media and American Public Television, Alaska Far Away has now been shown from Miami to Fairbanks, from Maine to Los Angeles, from Bemidji to Austin. Some stations show it over and over again (thank you, ThinkTV in Ohio!), and when we sat down to crunch the numbers, they looked like this:

- 55 public television stations
- in 29 states
- for a total of 335 broadcasts
- to a potential audience of 107,665,518

Those numbers blew us away. That means that a whole lot of people we've never met have been watching Alaska Far Away in the comfort of their own homes. 

Now, remember that "potential audience" means every person in a household with a television set within range of those 55 stations. And, of course, no one show - not even the Superbowl or the Oscars - is watched by absolutely everyone. However, if even 1% of that potential audience has seen our film, that would be well over one million people. We'd be pretty happy with a number like that.

And if you haven't seen it on your local station yet, there are a few more chances coming up in the next week:

Idaho Public Television
Sunday, January 18
11:00 a.m.
Additional broadcast 1/19 at 1:00 a.m.

Oregon Public Television

Sunday, January 18
7:30 p.m.

Colorado Public Television
Saturday, January 24
9:00 p.m.

A full house for the screening at the Moose Lake Public Library in Moose Lake, Minnesota
Glamorous marquee for our film festival debut in Muskegon,, Michigan

Daily screenings in the Wineck Barn at the Alaska State Fair

An overflow audience at Nicolet Technical College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin