Help us keep the Running of the Boots event going for a 24th year

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser has been a Sitka institution. But unless the Sitka Local Foods Network can find a partner organization or a big crew of volunteers, the race may not happen this year. Please help us keep the event going.

For those not familiar with the event, the Running of the Boots is a short costumed fun run in downtown Sitka where people run a short course wearing costumes and XtraTuf boots (optional). Usually the course isn’t much longer than running from the Totem Square end of Lincoln Street to the stoplight and back. Money is raised through an entry fee, and the Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted a small farm stand with late-season fresh local produce.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has coordinated the race for 11 years, but this year we just don’t have the board strength to get the event organized. Last year, to keep the event going, we partnered with the Sitka office of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, splitting proceeds. But the Sitka office of BBBS was closed earlier this year. This year we have two board members going on an extended honeymoon, another board member out of state at a conference the week of the event, and another board member who is pregnant and nearing her due date, so we need someone to step in and coordinate the event this year, and we’ll let you keep most of the proceeds from the race (if we can get our usual farm stand going, we’d keep the money earned from that).

The Running of the Boots has been part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s End-Of-Season Celebration the last several years, and this year that event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22. It usually starts about 11 a.m. (with registration open at 10 a.m. and costume judging about 10:30 a.m.). The race is over by about 11:30 a.m., with awards taking until noon or so. There is some set-up and take-down time involved, and there is prep time leading up to the event where the coordinator meets with the Chamber to make sure all the arrangements are worked out and also contacting merchants to get door prizes.

We’d love to find a kid-friendly group to help share this event, and SLFN board president Charles Bingham will help with media and other promotion even though he will be out of town until the week of the event (he gets back Friday night before the race). If your group is interested, please contact Charles at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com. Let’s keep this fun event going.

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White E awards Sitka Local Foods Network grant to match SNAP/WIC produce sales

Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) volunteer Samantha Skultka, center, presents grant checks on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, to Sitka Historical Society executive director Hal Spackman, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham. (Photo by Susan Brown)

The Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) awarded the Sitka Local Foods Network with a $1,000 grant during its 2018 grant cycle.

The grant will be used to provide matching funds for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries who purchase produce at the Sitka Farmers Market and other events where the SLFN sells produce, such as at the Running of the Boots or at our table on Chelan Produce weeks. The Sitka Local Foods Network began providing SNAP matching dollars for the first $20 of produce purchases at the markets a few years ago when there was a state grant, but last year those grant funds ran out and we used our general fund to match the produce purchases. We also started matching the $5 WIC farmers market produce coupons last year, using our general fund. We grow most of the produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our satellite gardens around town. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is part of the USDA’s The People’s Garden program.

“Our mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, but buying local produce can be difficult for people on food assistance programs,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our matching funds help get more healthy local produce into the diets of lower-income residents of Sitka. A lot of people don’t realize how much income inequality there is in Sitka, and according to the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in 2014, there were 1,410 people and 766 families receiving SNAP benefits in Sitka during 2013. That’s about one out of six Sitka residents who need extra access to this healthy local produce.”

The White E made several grants during the 2018 grant cycle, but a complete list wasn’t available. The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks the White E for its support.

Scenes from the 23rd annual Running of the Boots held on Sept. 23

It was rainy in Sitka on Saturday, Sept. 23 (stop the presses), but the rain didn’t dampen the fun during the 23rd annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.

Runners and others met under a large tent in Totem Square park, where we also had a small farm stand with fresh, local veggies from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, music from the Sitka Blues Band, a table with info about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, people selling Sitka Community Playground raffle tickets, a tent selling garlic from Middle Island Gardens, and a mat for kids to hold sumo wrestling contests with padded costumes.

In recent years, the Running of the Boots has been an annual fundraising event for the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. The Sitka Local Foods Network operates the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, the Sitka Farmers Market, and hosts an education program that includes the family garden mentoring project.

This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska helped co-host the event. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska is an organization that provides mentorship to youth.

The Running of the Boots is part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association, where Sitka residents were served hamburgers, hot dogs, salmon and cole slaw to celebrate the end of the summer.

A slideshow of scenes from the 23rd annual Running of the Boots is posted below.

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23rd annual Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 23rd annual Running of the Boots begins at 11:30 a.m. (registration opens at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. This year the costumed fun run fundraiser benefits two local nonprofit organizations — the Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.

This year, there will be more food, music and other tents staged near the start of the Running of the Boots, so it will have a more festive atmosphere. This change allows the race to be a bigger part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association. In addition to the Running of the Boots, the Season’s-End Celebration includes a lunch from noon to 2 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, and fish. People are asked to make a $2 donation when they get their lunch, and the money raised will go toward a local community group or nonprofit to be announced.

“We’re happy to share this event with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska this year,” said Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham, who also has been a Big Brother to a couple of Littles in Sitka. “The Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted this event for most of the past decade, but this year we weren’t sure if we had enough board members in town to keep the event going. It’s a great event, and I’m happy Big Brothers Big Sisters decided to partner with us to keep it going. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska is a great mentorship organization for youth in Sitka, so this will be a good activity for Bigs and their Littles.”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers).  For the past decade, the Running of the Boots raised funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners. This year, it also will raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, which helps mentor local youth.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The course starts at Totem Square park, and runners will run from one end of Lincoln Street to the other and back to Totem Square park (or, we may just run from Totem Square down Lincoln Street to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where runners will loop around the church and head back to Totem Square). There will be lots of prizes, including some new pairs of XtraTufs. There also is live music, and fun for the entire family. Some of the better costumes in recent years have been worn by adults.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $10 per person and $30 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10:30 a.m. Costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11:30 a.m. (NOTE: these times are a half-hour later than in recent years). As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a farm stand booth with fresh veggies for sale from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefit cards.

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kealoha Harmon of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska at 747-3500 or by email at kealoha.harmon@bbbsak.org, or Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 623-7660 or by email at charleswbingham3@gmail.com. We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact Kealoha to learn how to volunteer.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-16) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar at the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2016 Running of the Boots.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and follow our Twitter page at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities. The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska page on Facebook for Sitka is https://www.facebook.com/bbbsaksitka.

Scenes from the 22nd annual Running of the Boots held on Sept. 17

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Angie and Ryan Hutchins make for a jumbo-sized pair of XtraTufs as they run past St. Michael The Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral during the Running of the Boots on Sept. 17, 2016, in Sitka.

It was rainy in Sitka on Saturday, Sept. 17 (stop the presses), but the rain abated long enough for us to hold the 22nd annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network.

racestartThis year there was a new start-finish line and course, as our big tent was set up in Totem Square park and runners ran along Lincoln Street from Totem Square to the stoplight and back. We had a shark and fisherman, a jumbo-sized pair of XtraTufs, a young lad as Captain America, a young lady as Strawberry Shortcake, and more in the costume contest.

The Running of the Boots is an annual fundraising event for the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. The Sitka Local Foods Network operates the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, the Sitka Farmers Market, and hosts an education program that includes the family garden mentoring project.

The Running of the Boots is part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association, where Sitka residents were served hamburgers, hot dogs, salmon and cole slaw to celebrate the end of the summer.

The Sitka Local Foods Network also hosted a produce booth at the Running of the Boots, with produce from the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden. By the way, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt said we still have enough produce growing that she can sell 5-10 weekly boxes of produce through the next month. She said the boxes will run $30, and will likely contain about four pounds of carrots, two pounds of potatoes, two pounds of beets, one bundle of chard, one head of lettuce, with other possibilities such as cucumbers, basil, a half-dozen eggs, etc. She also has an excess of zucchini. To learn more, contact Laura at ljschmidt835@hotmail.com.

A slideshow of scenes from the 22nd annual Running of the Boots is posted below. Click this link for a story on KCAW-Raven Radio about the event.

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Scenes from the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer

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It rained heavily the day before and even the early morning of the market, but after we’d already set up inside we looked out and saw it was nice and sunny. So we decided outside was the best place to hold the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

slfnboothyounggirlwithcarrotsOther than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall. This week we also had three ladies who had antiques and other vintage items for sale.

Since it was the last market, it was nice to see some of the booths selling out. The Sitka Local Foods Network produce stand sold out of all its produce, and even its pork products from Mat-Valley Meats. The Salvation Army bread booth sold out, and Reindeer Redhots ran out of hot dog buns.

Now that the market season is over, we will be looking for new ways to try and revitalize the market. If you have ideas, please contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com.

The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration. The voting deadline is Sept. 21, and we were leading for Alaska in several of the categories.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

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Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer

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Charlie Bower brought a variety of mushrooms for sale this week.

It was nice and sunny, so we decided outside was the best place to hold the sixth of seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Other than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall.

YoungGirlDancesToMusicians

Sometimes you just need to dance.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 orjackson.mw08@gmail.com.

We only have one market left, which will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.