Months after renaming the annual “Colony Christmas” celebration to “Hometown Holidays,” the Palmer Chamber of Commerce announced that it has now “rebranded” the historic “Colony Days” event to “Braided River Festival.”

Mat-Su residents watch during a past Colony Days parade in downtown Palmer.

Beginning this June there will be no mention of “colony” in the official name of the annual, three-day event that commemorates 200 families who travelled from Midwest states as part of a 1935 New Deal project to establish a viable agricultural-based colony in Southcentral Alaska.

Prior to the summer rebrand, the Palmer Chamber held its first Christmas event under the new name of “Hometown Holidays,” thereby downplaying the religious origins of the December 25 “Christmas” celebration.

In justifying the recent removal of “colony” from the summer festival, the Palmer Chamber released a statement saying the new “Braided River Festival” name was a better reflection of modern-day Palmer.

“After decades of successfully hosting one of the summer’s largest festivals in the valley, we felt it was important to rebrand it to reflect what it has grown into: a celebration of the many aspects of what makes Palmer unique,” said the Chamber’s Executive Director Ailis Vann. “A braided river is made up of smaller rivers, creeks, and tributaries that come together to form one large, powerful force. For decades, the Palmer Chamber has also grown into a larger force thanks to the support of our community partners. It also speaks to the natural beauty of the Palmer area, including the Matanuska and Knik Rivers.”

Colony Days began 86 years ago, not as a celebration of gravelly riverbeds or the growth of the local Chamber of Commerce, but as a tribute to the hardy men and women who established a successful farming outpost in Alaska.

The Palmer Chamber statement notes that the Matanuska Colony Project created the original Colony Days, but that the Chamber eventually took on organizational duties for the event as it grew into a three-day celebration that now includes a parade, food trucks, vendor booths, music, games and family activities that promote local business.

The 10-member board of the Palmer Chamber is by no means the first organization to reject references to “colony, colonists or colonial” (see here and here). The word colony derives from the Latin “colonus,” which means “husbandman, tenant farmer, settler in new land.” Over the past few years, a number of so-called “woke” groups have eradicated the term to signal sufficient sensitivity to their growing litany of historic grievances. Most often highlighted by left-leaning activists and critical race theorists, the frequent claim is that America is a fundamentally racist country, founded by morally flawed colonists.

Those who wish to express their thoughts on recent actions by the Palmer Chamber can do so at their monthly meetings. The Chamber website states, “Your thoughts, concerns and issues are important, and we invite you to attend a Board meeting. The Board meets the third Friday of every month. Please contact the Chamber office for times and locations.”


— Contact Palmer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ailis Vann at or (907) 745-2880

— Email the Palmer Chamber of Commerce at

— Click here to see who sits on the 10-member board for the Palmer Chamber of Commerce.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

Palmer Chamber continues woke ‘rebranding’ of historic Mat-Su celebrations

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Steve P Peterson says:

    While the “colony” aspect of Palmer’s history was largely a failed experiment in socialism, to change the name now is politically inspired absurdity. What do they intend to do with the name of the high school, I wonder…
    This will never end until people just say no, and hell no, and don’t attend the repackaged woke event. Sadly, many will let this go by and the left will become further emboldened to wear away at the conservative foundations.

  • Herman Nelson says:

    Hot topic over at MRAK.. Here’s the contact information provided by a supporter over there.. I plan on calling asking what imbecile thought of this?
    Ryan Nelson March 25, 2022 At 8:02 am
    Palmer Chamber of Commerce Phone number: 907-745-2880
    Just in case your interested!

  • Me says:

    Oh no how dare other people that white Christians exist what will we dooooo

    • Me says:

      Than*. Pardon me

      • pj77777 says:

        Grammar is important, dear. I’m not sure what a homespun, country celebration of hard work and agriculture have to do with religion or skin color, but “wokeness” appears to be intolerant of any sort of change other “than” their own. Intolerance of change by progressives is so hypocritical, don’t you think??? Well, don’t you?

      • DoneWithIt says:

        Me – get another booster shot, it’s time.

  • Andrew says:

    Cmon! Really!??? Of all places cancel culture to seep in, Palmer?? Braided River Festival??? In my opinion a name change of anything in a city is put to a vote of the people, this was changed at the whim of someone clearly “woke”, look where “wokeness” has gotten this country. My message to the Palmer Chamber: WAKE-UP!!!

  • Owlet says:

    As for me, I am LIVID! The specter of Communism has reached our beloved MatSu Valley. If you read any history of China or even Russia, much of the lurid events of the take over by the Communist, began with doing exactly what the Palmer Chamber is doing…erasing the history of those who survived the elements and the upheaval in helping create a living, working community.
    Developing farmland, homes and trade here was not easy on anyone. Palmer was an experiment in community development in a hostile weather and land environment. With many losses and much toil and some assistance during the early days, we see Palmer today. I am very confused by the people ( did everyone vote to erase the Palmer history?) who voted for this insanity. Are you totally unaware of your surroundings?
    Who are these who are not being included??? I have never seen a person of any color, faith or creed turned away from any business in Palmer. I have never seen anyone of the same accosted on the streets. When there is an event, Colony Days, Colony Christmas, the State Fair or now the Alaska Airmen’s Show (which moved to Palmer last year), crowds and people are smiling, happy and welcoming. Again, WHO are these EVIL people who are so abusive that the name of the events in this town and the history of its citizens must be changed….the excuse or reason in the statement by the Chamber is ludicrous. Do you actually live here?
    How much $$ is it going to cost to make these changes and which Chamber businesses are benefiting?
    Shame on you for ignoring the past that led to what Palmer is today. I know, it isn’t perfect, but it was still a wonderful place to live until a handful of obviously needy people with no thoughts of what the public had to say, decided to go Rouge and grab power.
    Just to let you know, CHAMBER, no one likes it!!!!!

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    I am not so bothered by a decision to change a name as much as as I am by how this was done. Given the history behind this event, the longevity of the event under the Colony Days title, the population of the Palmer vicinity and the valley at large, there should have been public notice and a vehicle for input. Even a community vote. To secretively change the name and then ‘inform’ the public is wrong. Definitely everyone needs to complain to the Palmer Chamber board and even an email to the Palmer mayor albeit that has to be from the website –

  • Mboll says:

    Hhmm. Didnt go to a vote. I guess those in the “high castel” will decide what’s best for us little folks. Sounds like Palmer Chamber members have a little too much power, time for them to go.

  • kris spencer says:

    I live in Palmer. This was done “in secret” under the cover of darkness. It was not mentioned in the media nor was public opinion sought because they knew NO ONE in Palmer would go for it. There is currently a HUGE outcry and large numbers of people fighting it. To remove symbols, statues, traditions and celebrations…our “roots”… is to destabilize society and is part of the overall agenda to destroy the heart of strong, independent America. Colony means something. The woke Left doesn’t like what it means. Last year, they removed both Colony AND Christmas. While they “claim” Twisted River will still be about Colony, then why change it? Uh…no it won’t. It will gradually be less and less about colony and introducing something else to replace it. A new Generation will no longer value history, hard work, independence and other American values. That’s the goal in the name change. They could have simply introduced a new summer festival and that would be fine. But Nooooooo…they had to mess with a 70+ year tradition. Here’s hoping the people of Palmer have their own traditional Colony Days and ignore the other.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    We need to Boycott this woke braided festival this year. I will not be attending this year. I will give my money to other festivals around the state instead.

  • J. Henry says:

    Is Colony High going be renamed to “Braided River High”?

  • J. Henry says:

    What makes Palmer unique is the spirit and hard work of the Colonists.

    • DoneWithIt says:

      First – go to the Palmer Chamer of Commerce website and boycott those businesses. Confront the citizens on the Chamber, in a respectful way and challenge their cowardly thought process and decision.
      As a business owner I’m going to get involved in the chamber – we can’t have these Marxist thought processes and techniques of erasing our history. History is both good and bad – attempting to “cancel” or erase anything with a negative connotation is the foundation of totalitarianism. Political Correctness, WokeNess, and cancel culture demonstrates the absolute intolerance the Progressives have for dissenting opinions and thought.
      This is scary stuff.

  • Mark O says:

    Perhaps the Palmer Chamber of Commerce should rebrand themselves. Palmer Chamber of Wokism? Palmer Chamber of Marxism? Palmer Chamber of Fools? Local business owners and members of the Chamber should withhold their membership dollars if this is the path the Chamber chooses to follow.

  • Steve says:

    And what to do with the legacy of Hobo Jim who frequented the area.
    We certainly can’t continue using a name associated with a homeless vagabond.
    The Chamber might think about changing Jim’s name to Jim of the Braided Rivers.
    I feel much better.

  • Our Mutual Friend says:

    What’s the fuss, fellas? The local yokels are just trying to figure out how to better nickel-and-dime their way through life. Not everybody can make it “big” peddling weed, if you know what I mean.

  • Heather Pelletier says:

    For an organization that is supposedly for helping business…seems like rebranding something that has been a successful celebration of the City of Palmer’s colonist roots for 87 years is more than just a little bit wrong-headed. Hoping the community uproar will be heard loud and clear by local businesses that make up the Palmer Chamber.

  • Mongo Love Candy says:


  • Johnny says:

    Unbelievable, next will be lazy mountain