Fairbanks—The 81st Pioneers of Alaska Fairbanks coronation ceremony for the King and Queen Regents took place on March 10, 2019, at the Pioneer Museum in Pioneer Park.
The royal honor was transferred from King Frank McGilvary and Queen D.A. McGilvary to Stephen Cooper and Ruth Knapman at an annual ceremony steeped in tradition beginning with the creation of the Fairbanks Ice Carnival in 1934.
Started by Mrs. Kay Hufman and Clara Murray as a way to celebrate the end of winter, the Carnival was a way to cheer up the community. It allowed both the young and old to participate in a variety of events which included the crowning of the first Pioneer King and Queen Regents, William Craigie and Catherine VanCurler. They were dressed in beautiful fur garments and seated upon elaborately constructed ice thrones situated downtown next to the Chena River.
Although the Ice Carnival is no longer celebrated, the tradition of the annual spring coronation has been kept alive by the Fairbanks Pioneers since that first ceremony with only a few years missed during the 1940s due to World War II.
The 2019 King and Queen Regents. Stephen Cooper and Ruth Knapman will represent the Fairbanks Igloos at events held throughout the state for the duration of their one-year reign.
PHOTO 1: 2019 King Regent Stephen Cooper and Queen Regent Ruth Knapman.
PHOTO 2: The newly crowned King and Queen Regents cut their respective cakes at the reception immediately following their coronation.
–Photos by Nick Nugent. Story contribution by Becky Hassebroek.