Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society collection
Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society collection

An annual mid-winter tradition since 1961, the Iceworm Festival is a one-of-a-kind celebration for a unique Alaskan town. Here’s how it all started: 

A couple of the boys were warding off the cold one night, and over glasses of their favorite ‘anti-freeze’ they discussed just what was missing in Cordova’s winter social scene. The ‘couple of boys’ for the record were Omar Wehr and Merle (Mudhole) Smith, and they got to wonder why all the other towns in Alaska had some kind of festival each year and Cordova had none. A unique event was needed, and Omar came up with the idea of the Iceworm Festival.  

For that first festival’s visitors, Cordova Airlines offered a one-day $15 round-trip special ticket, leaving Anchorage at 7 a.m. and returning at midnight the same day. This included transportation to and from the airport as well as a ticket to the Crab Feed Dinner. 

The annual event has continued with many of the original activities and new ones added each year. A variety show features local talent, the crowning of the Iceworm Queen, the survival suit race, a grand parade, craft fair, cake bake, and so much more to guarantee a fun-filled weekend!