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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Almanac: Moose Pooping Festival

Air Date: Week of July 13, 2001

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This week, facts about Alaska's annual Moose Pooping Festival. Every year, residents of Talkeetna, Alaska gather for a little fun with nature's leftovers.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It's Living On Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

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CURWOOD: On the second Saturday of every July, the residents of Talkeetna, Alaska, play host to the annual Moose Dropping Festival. That's right, for one weekend each year, moose droppings, brown pellets three quarters to an inch long, are the start attraction in this little town, population 500.

When the spring sun melts the snow away from the region around Mt. McKinley, the women of Talkeetna scout out the terrain and collect as many of the moose droppings as possible. After they dry the pellets in the sun, they coat them with shellac, and string them together to make jewelry. Other craft items include potpourri, mugs, and swizzle sticks.

It was 29 years ago when some local schoolteachers decided to capitalize on this traditional Alaskan pastime. It seems officials in Talkeetna were thinking of tearing down the town's historic one-room schoolhouse. After a few beers at the local inn, the teachers came up with the festival, as a way to raise money to save their school. At its centerpiece is a lottery called The Moose Drop Dropping. Contestants put marked moose pellets into a sack, then get suspended 1,000 feet above a small x that marks a spot on the ground. Officials then yank a ripcord. The moose dropping that drops closest to the x wins its owner $1,000. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

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