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Now that the 85th Outdoor
Writers Association of America (OWAA) conference has come and gone, all of us
here at explorefairbanks.com are taking time to reflect on this extraordinary
event. There were numerous reasons why this conference was unprecedented. For
one thing, the annual conference of outdoor media has never been held in
Alaska. It’s taken nearly ten years of persuasion for the Association to agree
to hold their conference so far away from their member base. Plus, regardless
of their name, these outdoor- media-types often held their conferences in
typical urban settings.
Conversely, Fairbanks used our remote location as an
attraction. Yet some of the attendees admitted trepidation about going off the
grid for such a long time. For the more than 200 registrants, including over 90
outdoor travel media, being unplugged turned out to be the inspiration they didn’t
know they were looking for—an ironic twist given the title of the conference, “North
to Alaska for New Frontiers in Journalism.” In fact, the outdoor writers were
coming together to discuss, among other things, new media opportunities and
cutting edge technology.
Well, you can’t argue that geothermal energy
production isn’t high on the list of revolutionary technology, but it was the lack of available tools
that made the conference such a success. Once the conference attendees figured
it out that mobile telephone coverage and internet access was limited, they
began to raise their heads skyward and look around. Only then did they truly
“experience” Interior Alaska. They hooked world-class grayling in the Chena River,
hiked in our boreal forest and actually talked to each other around late night
campfires. Some even slept on a cot in tents!
FCVB also produced a pre and post excursions guide featuring more than 100
opportunities that made Fairbanks and all of Alaska, particularly our closest neighbors, accessible to this prestigious group of
writers. Whether they drove to the Arctic or kayaked Prince William Sound, hiked
Denali National Park and Preserve or hopped aboard the Riverboat Discovery,
each of the Outdoor Writers who made the long trek to the Last Frontier will
remember for years to come how they reconnected to their passion: not just
writing about, but living it up in the great outdoors!
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