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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX12QFQ0Lvk). 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.