AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 2): Reindeer Are Better Than People

Note: This is Part 2 of the AnchoRAGIN’ series. For Part 1, click here.

The next morning, we had breakfast, hopped into our rental car, and drove downtown to the Anchorage Market and Festival on 3rd and E. It’s apparently Alaska’s largest open-air market and it has a bunch of different vendors including those for food, jewelry, and other knickknacks.

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I didn’t buy much here, but there was a booth for Jonesers Alaskan Handmade Nectar and Rona and I sampled a bunch of their products. All were very tasty and several of them have even won first place awards, so I decided to bring back two of their more unusual flavors: valley nectar (fireweed, clover, dandelion, and arctic chamomile) and chaga mushroom.

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After going through most of the booths, we got back to our rental car and headed off for an adventure outside of Anchorage. Our first stop was the Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer. Rona had heard about this place from some woman she met on her plane ride, but we didn’t really know what to expect. To say that all we did was go and see some reindeer up close would definitely be an understatement.

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We bought admission for the tour, but we still had some free time before it started so the staff told us to visit the Rocky Mountain elk and feed them any grass we found along the way. That was already a unique experience that I can’t say I’ve done before. There were these huge elk just waiting for people to come by and give them a snack.

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The time finally came for the tour to start and we learned a little more about the farm and its reindeer. We found out that caribou is just the term used for wild reindeer and that both males and females have antlers that they lose at different times of the year. All of Santa’s flying reindeer are female because males have already lost their antlers by Christmas. We also learned that only native Alaskans are allowed to keep reindeer in the state, but an exception was made for these since they were technically all descendants of a herd that were brought in from Canada.

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We stopped by to take a quick look at the farm’s bison before the craziness began. Each of us were given a cup of reindeer food and led to the pen where there were already a couple of eager reindeer waiting for our arrival. The gate opened, our group walked in, and all of a sudden reindeer upon reindeer were crowding around all of us hoping to get a snack.

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To feed them, all you have to do is scoop up some pellets from your cup and let the reindeer come and eat it out of your hand. It was a little messy, but how many people can really say that a reindeer slobbered all over their hand? Those reindeer were really determined to get food too and would follow you everywhere until they found another target or you convinced them that you didn’t have any food left.

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It was such a hilarious experience and there were times where I felt like I was addressing a rowdy group of kids. You can totally tell that I’m talking to the reindeer in some of the pictures we took. It was only $8 to take the tour and it was most definitely worth it.

"Hey! Be patient! One at a time!" - Something I have said to both kids and reindeer.

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The feeding ended after our guide noticed that there was a baby reindeer with its head stuck in a fence and someone was called to help pry it out. We all finished giving out our food pellets and after getting cleaned up and checking the gift shop out one more time, we headed on to the next part of our rental car trip.

Check out other posts in the AnchoRAGIN’ series:
AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 1): Adventures in Downtown Anchorage
AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 2): Reindeer Are Better Than People
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 3): What’s the Address for the Glacier?
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 4): Glacier Kayaking
AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 5): A Wild Moose Chase

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