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From Lemonade Day to Mizuktata: Nome’s Cherished Community Event Evolves

2015 'Lemonade Day' in AK
Costumed 'lemon heads' visited young entrepreneurs across the Bering Strait Region. Photo: Pauline Koezuna.

Portable tables with decorations, homemade goods, and smiling faces will be scattered through town Saturday as Mizuktata returns to Nome. The event, formerly known as Lemonade Day, is one of the community’s most cherished parts of the weekend of Midnight Sun. 

The first Lemonade Day was organized by Alice Bioff in 2012 along with a team of volunteers from Kawerak, Inc. Since then the event has blossomed into an event that not only gives locals the chance to enjoy some tasty treats but also gives children the opportunity to learn important business skills. Krystal Hensley has organized the event for the last two years with help from volunteers.

“It’s definitely fun for the whole community,” Hensley said. “They’re going to be our future entrepreneurs, I think they’ll look forward to maybe running their own businesses one day.”

The event includes a budget workshop led by Ashley Stickman, where kids can learn about financial planning. Participants in the workshop will have a chance to win gift cards to help buy ingredients and decor for their stands. The workshop kicks off Monday, June 17 at 5:30pm at Old St. Joe’s.

The name change to Mizuktata came after the State of Alaska stopped funding an event organized through the non-profit Lemonade Day. When it came to choosing a new name, Hensley turned to Kiminaq Alvanna- Stimpfle and her mom Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle to come up with the name.

“Mizuktata is Inupiaq and it means ‘let’s drink juice’. We felt that that was more fitting for our region,” Hensley said. 

Hensley’s personal connection to the event runs deep. Her daughter, Kailey Hensley, participated in the first event when she was just four years old. Now sixteen, Kailey along with her friend Angela Omedelina will run a lemonade stand to fund their attendance at summer volleyball camps. Hensley shared her appreciation for the ways residents of the region step up to support the youth. 

“I feel like the community of Nome is always supportive in whatever kind of fundraising events the youth are doing,."

Another beloved tradition is the lemonhead brigade, where volunteers in lemon-head costumes visit stands, interact with the children, and make purchases to support their efforts. This year’s event will culminate in the “Splash It Up” celebration, featuring cake, prizes, and an opportunity for kids to share their experiences and what they’ve learned.

Hensley praised the many volunteers and organizations that make Mizuktata possible, including their biggest supporter Kawerak. The City of Nome has donated the facility rental for the Splash It Up event and budget workshop, gift cards to Hansons, and other prizes. Credit Union 1 also donated funds for the Splash It Up event. Norton Sound Health Corporation donated two bikes as prizes, Alaska Commercial Company donated one bike, and Nome Eskimo Community donated sweaters. 

Hensley worked with Renee Joyce the last two years to put on the event. After Joyce moved away from Nome, Hensley put out a notice on Facebook asking for volunteers to help with this year’s event. Hensley named Dani Smithhisler, Ashley Stickman, Irvin Barnes, Faye Buffas, Reba Lean, Chris Morris, Kelly Bogart, and Jessica Farley as community members that stepped up to help put on a successful event.

Mizuktata will be held on Saturday June 22, with stands operating from as early as 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. The event’s map showing stand locations will be posted to Facebook shortly before the event kicks off. 

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