There has been a marked upswing of hipsters here in the Mat-Su Valley lately. It could be that there is an influx of hipsters from the lower 48 or perhaps there are more “homegrown” Alaskan hipsters…or maybe (more likely) it is a mixture of both.
The Matsu Muckraker first started to notice this trend a few years ago with the proliferation of microbreweries in our area…followed by all of the new marijuana dispensaries…and then came the KOMBUCHA.
At this (tipping) point, the Muckraker became somewhat ALARMED. WHAT the holy heck IS GOING ON HERE in our conservative (Sarah Palin & Kimberley Strassel both live in Wasilla!), family-oriented, mostly rural (although that is changing fast to suburban), religious, (red) neck of the woods? Are we becoming….Portland, Oregon??!!
In any case, for the uninitiated, here are some definitions of “hipster.”
Noun – A person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream. (Except that ironically, hipsters actually are the cultural mainstream among 20 and 30-somethings.)
Being a hipster seems to involve wearing converse sneakers, jeans and band (or retro) tee shirts and having a beard (if male) and wearing paisley or Western wear (primarily if female). Also, these folks often choose glasses with black clunky frames.
Playing the guitar, skateboarding and/or snowboarding helps. Looking like a hobo but perhaps having a trust fund to start a microbrewery or graphic design business is not uncommon. Hipsters embrace words such as “Chill,” “Indie,” “Progressive,” and “Old School.” Note that Hipsters are all about branding and marketing. They know their way around art, design, and social media. Everything they do is calculated to not appear calculated.
Wikipedia explains this trend well:
Here are some more definitions – https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hipster
So, if you want to know where to find (or avoid) HIPSTERS in the Valley, here is...
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HIPSTER HANGOUTS IN THE MAT-SU VALLEY:
10. Outdoorsy Hipsters can be found at various environmentally friendly non profits such as: NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School – which calls itself a “Global Wilderness School.” The Alaska division is located off Farm Loop in Palmer. https://www.nols.edu/en/coursefinder/locations/nols-alaska/ NOLS is a great organization, but let’s be honest, it caters to wealthy folks like the Kennedys as their trips costs tens of thousands of dollars each. The counselors are often former attendees who are adventuring for a few years before settling down with professional jobs. Another organization where hipsters congregate is the Alaska Center – fka the Alaska Center for the Environment – https://akcenter.org/ – a political action group which also runs the youth summer camp at the APU/Louise Kellogg farm in Palmer (walking distance from NOLS). Also, look for hipsters riding fat bikes to the Knik Glacier in the winter and practicing their poses at outdoor YOGA in the summer. There is free yoga in the park in Wasilla and also the occasional yoga class on top of the Butte. (The Butte yoga may not actually be free but no one can stop you from setting up your mat with the class because the Great Land Trust bought the Butte for everyone to enjoy in perpetuity.)
9. Marijuana-loving Hipsters can be found in droves at the summer Hemp and Marijuana Festivals such as Alaska Hempfest and Great Alaska Cannibis Bowl. Also, weedy hipsters can be seen coming and going from and working at the dozens of pot shops around the Valley.
8. Creative Hipsters can be found at places like the Mat-Su College library or Fireside Books or the Comic book shop AEGIS Comics in Wasilla – https://aegiscomicsalaska.com/index.html . They also may belong to the local arts groups such as the Palmer Arts Council and the Valley Arts Alliance. Some of them appear in plays at the VPA or Glenn Massay Theater but they are more likely to have a role in or help out with an indie film. There are a couple of independent film companies based in the Valley so look for hipsters on local film locations especially in the summer.
7. Edgy Hipsters can be found at the skateboard parks at Wonderland Park in Wasilla and downton Palmer (conveniently located across from the new Kombucha place – see more below) as well as at various tattoo parlors and also running with the Musk Ox https://www.muskoxfarm.org/running-with-the-bulls or participating in the Crazy Lazy Mountain race.
6. Musical Hipsters can be found DJ’ing their own radio shows on Big Cabbage Radio – KVRF – or the Pass (Hatcher Pass radio 95.5) OR performing at Friday Flings in Palmer or at the Wasilla Summer Music in the Park series or at various Open Mic Nights. Klondike Mike’s has a weekly rock version while Schwabenhoff hosts a monthly acoustic/Blue Grass version. Hipsters also love music festivals such as the Alaska Pickers Retreat (held at the Louise Kellogg farm) and the Talkeetna blue grass festival.
5. Stylish Hipsters can be found at thrift stores such as Bishop’s Attic in Palmer. Look for them in the massive flannel shirt section. Well-groomed hipsters have also been spotted at the new Alaska Lady Barber shop which caters to men with beards – https://akladybarber.com/
4. Coffee Drinking Hipsters can be found at Vagabond Blues. In fact, the whole Kolosky building seems to be infiltrated with hipsters.
3. Organic and Vegan Hipsters can be located on Friday evenings in the summer buying produce at Arctic Organics up near Lazy Mountain (prior to that farm bringing its haul to the Saturday markets in Anchorage) OR drinking fermented juice at the weekly trivia nights at 203 Kombucha. http://203kombucha.com/ Please note that 203 Kombucha only sells kombucha and one food item – avocado toast!!! Seriously. That’s it. However, if you are really hungry, you are allowed to bring over a pizza from Humdinger’s next door. The Kombucha owner moved up here from California and previously ran a skateboard company with actor Zach Efron. I have even seen a vintage VW bus in the parking lot. Here are screen shots from this shop’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/203Kombucha Notice the avocado toast and the guitar:
2. Beer Drinking Hipsters can be found at any of the microbreweries in the Valley but they are especially prevalent at the Bleeding Heart Brewery. This is because the Bleeding Heart Brewery, like the Kombucha place, was founded by and is run by true blue hipsters. The Bleeding Heart Brewery used to be located on a farm near the Palmer Golf Course but it is moving to the back of the Alaska Picker antique store near the courthouse and jail in downtown Palmer. One difference between the Kombucha owner and these beer folks (besides alcohol content) is that the Bleeding Heart hipsters are homegrown and not imported.
These Bleeding Heart Brewery peeps are truly Peak Mat-Su Valley Hipsterism: https://www.facebook.com/bleedingheartbrewery/
In any case, check out the hilarious videos on the Bleeding Heart Brewery’s Youtube channel. (They clearly have indie movie producing hipster friends.) This video is especially funny and of course, very hip:
ONE: Finally, the number one place to find hipsters is TALKEETNA!!! This small unincorporated village located off the Parks highway on the way to Denali National Park is the ultimate, original hipster locale. You cannot walk around town without bumping into hipsters and as an added bonus, hippies. They are running the food trucks and piloting the river boats and serving beer and pizza at the restaurants. They are also camping and hiking and playing music. Here is a hint for single women looking to match up with a Susitna Valley Hipster: Attend the Talkeetna Bachelor Festival which is always held in November 10 days after Thanksgiving. It is for a good cause (all the proceeds benefit DV victims’ groups) and 99% of the bachelors being auctioned off have beards.