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This Weekend: A 'Prince,' a Rose and a rubber ducky race

Katie Medred,Ben Anderson
This weekend, choose your own adventure: A half marathon, a Birch Festival, Golden Days or music shows including Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Ezza Rose, the Sweeteners and more.

KATIE: Ben, you know we don't have a lot of fans, but that one fan we do have is pretty pissed-off that we've been skipping out on This Weekend. I can't name names, but trust me this guy is all about the angry emails. I, for one, am getting tired or responding in emoticons in order to buffer the hostility. "Hi, I'm so sorry, we've been so busy! :)"  See what I mean? It's horrible.

In order to spare me the Internet equivalent of buying a shot of Jagermeister -- you should see what my face is doing right now -- I suggest we fire this bad boy back up, whatddya say?

Allow me to start us off...

Did you know that Bonnie "Prince" Billy, a.k.a. Will Oldham, and Dawn McCarthy will be playing in Anchorage this week? No? That's weird, because I've been talking about it for the last few months. Clearly you don't listen to anything I say, which is fine. I'm used to it. I no longer have feelings. McCarthy and Oldham will play to a sold-out show at the Tap Root Public House in Anchorage Thursday night. But fear not, if you are indeed fearing, there's rumor of another show to follow. I'll keep you posted.

This week is a pretty good one for music, following right behind Oldham and McCarthy is Portland's Ezza Rose Band.

Rose and crew are kicking off their first ever Alaska tour in Anchorage with a Friday show at the Taproot followed by a Saturday matinee in Town Square, which starts at 3:45 p.m. From there they'll travel north to Denali and Fairbanks before circling back and heading down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward and Ninilchick for Salmonstock. Check out the complete tour schedule to see when the band will be in an area near you. In the meantime, purchase tickets to Friday's show online and listen to the band's dark folk-infused, female fronted, retro bluegrass sound below:

BEN: I sympathize, Katie. I really do. Friends don't let friends use smiley faces. I've lost too many of those close to me over the years after they got all hopped up on smileys, emoticons and emojis. Every time I got a text notification, I would wonder, "Is this going to have some kind of cartoon dog attached to the message? A thumbs-up sign?" At some point, I just couldn't watch them hurt themselves like that any more.

I won't let it happen to you.

You know what else I won't let happen to you? Your chance to purchase tickets for Salmonstock, the three day music-fest down in Ninilchik that takes place the first weekend in August. That's only about two weeks away, and according to Kate Huber, marketing manager with the Renewable Resources Coalition, there's a "definite possibility" that tickets could sell out. You can still buy online, and there should be tickets available at the gate. Headlining acts include Brandi Carlile and Trampled by Turtles. Be sure to check the lineup before committing to any purchases -- you can buy single-day tickets if you're only itching to see one or two acts.

But more in the immediate future on the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage act the Sweeteners are playing a double bill with Washington musician Vaughn Johannes on Friday at the Down East Saloon in Homer, that quaint little town on Kachemak Bay. The show starts at 9 p.m., so maybe camping on the Spit is a prudent option for those road-tripping down to see the show?

What do you think, Katie? Will you be attending? :)

KATIE: I'm not amused, Ben. You should know better than to badger me with happy faces. I dislike it.

Do you even know what I like, what delights me, Ben? (Besides black comedies and clear liquor?) I'll tell you: Betula neoalaskana, known most commonly by the street name "Birch tree."

The community of Talkeetna will honor this majestic broadleaved deciduous hardwood this weekend-- Friday through Sunday-- with a series of lectures, workshops and educational events during the Talkeetna Birch Festival. You should check it out because it's gonna be pretty nerdy, in all the right ways. I'm most looking forward to our colleague, Ned Rozell, and his Saturday morning writing workshop titled "How to Describe a Birch in 50 Words or Less." Check out a full schedule of events to see all the delightful happenings.

On another note, and back in Anchorage, Her Turn Boutique and Skinny Raven will host the very first Her Tern Half Marathon, a women's only race, on Sunday. Registration is open until Saturday, but the price jumps from $120 to $150 after Friday. Not into running on a Sunday? I'm told prime watching can be found along the Park Strip and 15th ave. downtown, or at Inletview Elementary.

In addition to the race, Her Turn and Skinny Raven will hold an free public expo on the street between the two downtown shops, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be merchandise, bib pick-ups, photo ops and sweet tunes.

Ben, obviously you can't run this race, but you can pack a sippy cup and watch the action from the sidelines, just don't taunt the ladies, OK?

BEN: Oh, you think I won't be running? Haven't you seen "Tootsie?" Or "Mrs. Doubtfire?" It's happening.

There are a couple of other festivals happening this weekend too, to compete with the Birch Festival. In Fairbanks, you have the Golden Days festival  complete with street fair, parade and other family-friendly activities. One particularly popular event each year is the rubber ducky race, when 7,000 of the children's bath toys are dumped into the Chena River, and people who have purchased particular ducks have a chance to win one of a number of prizes. That gets underway at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, if you want to get so far out of town that you actually end up outside of Alaska, you could also hit up the Dawson City Music Festival, which is actually the next stop for Bonnie Prince Billy after their AK jaunt. That's far from the only act for this three-day festival, though. But if you're hoping to attend, you better get planning -- Google Maps pegs the trip from Anchorage to Dawson City in the Yukon at just shy of 22 hours.

So what do you think, Katie? Road trip?

KATIE: For more Bonnie Prince Billy? I'll do it!

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com and Katie Medred at katie(at)alaskadispatch.com