Talkeetna  loves to party. The Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival drops into town the second weekend of July, with a big parade, a “mountain mother” contest, foot races, dozens of food and craft booths, and the infamous moose-nugget toss and moose-nugget dropping contests. If you don’t know what moose nuggets are, just ask any Alaskan. The 2009 festival brought more than 5,000 people to the town, along with a host of problems, including lots of rowdy behavior and even a death when a drunken partier drowned in the river. Future festivals—if they continue—will be better policed to tame things down.
The other big event in these parts is the Talkeetna Bluegrass Festival (907/495-6718, www.talkeetnabluegrass.com ), held the first weekend of August at Mile 102 on the Parks Highway. Called “Alaska’s greatest campout” or “Woodstock Mudhole,” this is a great chance to get in touch with your earthy side, hang out with the freaks, and see what mind-altering substances are in fashion. The music rarely strays to bluegrass; more often it’s rock, folk, or blues. It is great fun, even if it rains.
When winter arrives with a vengeance, Talkeetna Winterfest brightens December spirits, especially those of the many local bachelors. The main events are a Wilderness Woman Contest that includes all sorts of wacky activities, followed later that evening by a Bachelor Society Ball during which local bachelors are bid on by single women, many of whom drive up from Anchorage  for the chance. It has all the sexual energy of a male-stripper night, except that some of the men are considerably less fit and keep their clothes on (at least during the bidding). This is one of Alaska’s most authentic winter events.
The classic Fairview Inn (907/733-2423, www.denali-fairview.com ) has live bands nightly in the summer, and is a great place to soak up the old-time atmosphere.