SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Will Juneau Finally Learn How To Guzzle?
By Dave Kiffer


October 24, 2007

Ketchikan, Alaska - I have always thought our neighbors in Juneau are a little different from you and me.

jpg Dave Kiffer

That's not really a surprise. Alaska is a whole big state full of "rugged individualists" so it makes sense that our cities would be individualistic as well. We are all the same in our difference, so to speak.

When I was growing up, the kids from Juneau always seemed a little more "hoity-toity" that us in K-Town. They were from a white collar town, and, according to them we were from - well - a "dirty collar" town.

Fair enough.

I remember one year we arrived at Southeast basketball tournament (in Sitka) to see all the Juneau pep clubbers dressed in scarfs.

Granted this was the 1970s, when even kids from Ketchikan were dressing in gosh-awful flower printed shirts, but scarfs (okay, they were cravats, not that anyone from Ketchikan would actually know what a "cravat" was) were definitely beyond the pale.

We didn't know what to make of such sartorial splendor. It seemed very "big city" of them.

Unfortunately for them, their basketball team wasn't wearing any fancy neckwear and our blue collar team clocked their white collar team. Our team ended up with the fanciest neckwear, the basketball nets.

But I digress. I suppose that it's not just Juneau, frankly, all the towns in Southeast are just little different from each other, not to mention "different" from just about any other normal towns in the world.

Wrangell may be sort of blue collar like Ketchikan, but you can't really be true blue collar when you have a golf course, even if it is built on wood chips.

Petersburg is truly different than all the other towns in SE. Any town that has more codfish balls than residents is truly unique. And then there's all those tall, good looking Scandahoovians. Yah sure you betcha!

Sitka is distinguished by the simple fact that it really, really, really wants to be Juneau. Oh, it may claim that it is has a separate identity from those nasty social climbing "capitol stealers" on Gastineau Channel, but point in fact, the year after Juneau showed up at SE Sitka with black "cravats" Sitka showed up at SE in Juneau in dark blue "cravats." I rest my case.

Yet, when I think about SE, I wonder if any of us Southeast cities is really in the real Alaska (well, Skagway does feel like it when the "the north wind blows"). I've been to Coldfoot in the winter. That, boys and girls, is the real Alaska, the rest of us are just living in the northern suburbs of Puget Sound.

Oops, I have digressed again. Back to Juneau. Which I was saying is a little bit "different."

I was reading the Juneau paper on a flight to Skagway ( brrrrrr!) recently and I saw an advertisement for a Festival of Seafood at the Juneau Yacht Club.

It featured halibut, salmon, shrimp, salad, Alaskan Oatmeal Stout Gingerbread Bread and more!

Dinner was from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and I was a little sad I was not going to be in Juneau for the dinner. It sounded good.

But then I read further and I remembered that Juneau is - once again, everybody join in here - "a strange world after all."

Juneau is not really Alaska. No way, no how.

An hour before the dinner, there was a social hour sponsored by one of Juneau's local breweries. It was to feature a variety of beers and seafood "horsedovers."

Sign me up!

Sort of.

The pre-dinner was billed as "Tutored Beer Tasting."


It's not that that I think a beer tasting is a little odd. Just about everyone in Ketchikan has been involved in "beer tasting" at some point or another. It's what makes a blue collar kind of town.

But "tutored?"

Do the folks from Juneau really need to be taught "how" to taste beer?

Do they follow a swig of "brewski" with the "swish and spit?"

Do they need a light water cracker to "cleanse the palate" between lagers?

Does any true Alaska need to be taught how to drink beer?

I think not.

Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2007

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