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The Community of Ester Forest

Ester, sometimes known as "The Republic of Ester," is a collection of dirt streets, rambling log homes and "tailing piles" from a time when dredges were busy removing gold. It is a bedroom community for Fairbanks, but a phenomenon in its own right. While Ester is full of individuals, professors and artists predominate and many are jealous of their identity; disliking being lumped in with Fairbanks.

In addition, its boundaries are hazy - there are only a few families living in the "core," others in the subdivision above, and some who live on the neighboring Old Nenana Highway. Gold Hill Liquor and Grocery is often considered part of Ester, by virtue of being a place where many from Ester shop.

In the center of the community is a pub called the Golden Eagle Saloon, a community gathering spot.

Ester has always been a mining town, but there is spirited debate about allowing more full-time mining, as many decry the noise, dust, and traffic that more active mining would bring. An attempt some years ago to re-zone 21,000 acres of Ester Dome land from general use to mineral use failed, a testament to Ester residents who fought strenuously to defeat a rezone that would have discouraged land uses incompatible with mining.

Ester Farmers Market

Ester now has a farmer's market. The Ester Community Market will beEster Community Market Poster holding the season's grand opening on Thursday, June 4 from 4 to 8 pm. The Ester Community Association sponsors this weekly open-air market from 4 to 8 pm on Thursdays, June through August, at the Ester Community Park. Ester artists, craftspeople, farmers, and other vendors will offer their wares to the public. They encourage busking by local musicians, and owners of classic cars are invited to bring them out for display.

For more information, contact the EMCE at or go to

Here are a few of the people and places you might want to visit in Ester: (Note to locals - if you belong on this page and are not mentioned, please drop us an e-mail to be added.)

bulletCraig Buchanan, sculptor who creates from everyday "found" objects. He used to run the Ester Stash, which moved and is now Pioneer Espresso, mentioned later on this page.
bulletEster Gold Camp & Malemute Saloon. A first rate tourist attraction that even the locals enjoy. You should not leave Fairbanks without hearing at least one reading of Robert Service! Read more about it by following the link above. UPDATE: WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THEY ARE CLOSED.
bulletEster Republic Newspaper: This is a monthly newspaper begun in January 1999. The office is located in Studio #2 at the Annex, near Ester at 2922 Parks Highway. As it says on their webpage, "The Ester Republic is an irreverent periodical published monthly in the Ester Commonwealth and written by members of the local populace. In no way should this publication be mistaken for a regular newspaper."
bullet The Ester Republic Press  publishes and distributes nonfiction books and The Ester Republic newspaper (see above).
bullet Ester Designworks is owned by Deirdre Alida Helfferich & Hans Mölders. Deirdre does publication design and production ( books, newsletters, brochures, logos, postcards, advertisements, catalogs, posters. & business cards). Her husband, Hans, does woodworking and interior design (lamps,  staircases, doors, cabinetry, room dividers, outhouses,  ballustrades, tenon and mortise construction, & rough carpentry). The shop is located in Ester.
bulletJean Lester's Studio, artist of landscapes, floral stationery, oil & pastel paintings, and portraits, who can be found most Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Farmers' Market. The oil painting on the right is hers (photo of it by Julie Coghill). To see more of Jean's work, visit her web site by following the link above.
Iris oil painting by Jean Lester
bulletJudie Gumm Designs (jewelry "sculptured interpretations of northern images" sold worldwide). Some of her designs are featured in the Georgeson Botanical Garden Gift Shop.

Judie Gumm is a noted jewelry designer from Ester, Alaska where she has been designing and manufacturing jewelry since 1970. She is recognized for her Alaskan nature designs, combining sterling silver and semiprecious stones in designs which feature the birds, fruits, berries and animals of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Judie has her own website.
bulletOld Ridge Wood Shop with Skip Nodler is a solar powered wood shop producing tiny intricate bowls with lids to dog sleds and guitars. Look for him at the Farmers' Market.
Skip Nodler of Old Ridge Wood Shop, Ester

The John Trigg Ester Library  was named after John Trigg in part due to his love of books, and in part because of his creation of a book exchange in the Golden Eagle Saloon next door. The library itself was once (in 1999) the "Ester Republic Reading Room".

Membership is only $5 per year (though they gladly accept donations). To become a member, patrons only need to fill out a 3 x 5 index card with their name, address, e-mail, and phone number, and place it in the brown jar on the gray shelf with the book return box, by the door! There website is There is even a Friends of the Ester Library site, found at

John Trigg Ester Library Fundraiser: the 7th annual Library Lallapalooza & Book Bash!

The John Trigg Ester Library is having its 7th annual Librarypalooza fundraiser on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at the Annex gallery at 2922 Parks Highway, near Water Wagon, from 2 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to come to this celebration of books, cuisine, and culture: Live music, a fashion show, and a lasagne feed will entertain guests while silent and outcry auctions will help raise money for a new building. Enjoy the performances of local musicians Nate Montgomery, George Gianakopoulos, Mel Birch, and Matt Johnson, who will be playing all afternoon.

Silent auctions from 2 pm to 4:30 will feature items from local businesses, publishers, booksellers, and artists; the event starts out with hors d’oeuvres and beverages from 2 to 3 pm, followed by a lasagne feed and recycled t-shirt fashion show at 3 o’clock. Models will display items of apparel made from reworked John Trigg Ester Library t-shirts which will be available for sale or auction. An outcry and dessert auction begins after the lasagne feed, at 4 pm. Door prizes will be awarded from 4:30 to 5 pm (must be present to win).

The Ester library is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1999. The primary aim of the Book Bash is to raise funds and awareness for the John Trigg Ester Library, which is designing a new, green library building, to be constructed at 474 Village Road in Ester.

Library memberships and information on the design and construction of the library will be available at the fundraiser. For details on auction items, the fashion show, or other aspects of the lallapalooza or the library, please go to, or for more information, please call 451-0636 or e-mail


Amy Cameron, fashion show coordinator, 455-0209, Melinda Harris, dessert auction coordinator, 378-6744 Ken Bluhm, lasagne feed coordinator, 978-8089 Trey Simmons, silent and outcry auction organizer, Deirdre Helfferich, librarian & publicity coordinator, 451-0636,

P.O. Box 468
Ester, AK 99725
(907) 451-0636 or

Fundraiser particulars:

John Trigg Ester Library Lallapalooza and Book Bash 2011
Location: the Annex art gallery, 2922 Parks Highway, Fairbanks AK 99709, Time: 2-5 p.m. Sunday, February 27, 2011. Sponsoring organization: John Trigg Ester Library, Inc.

Event schedule:

bullet2:00 p.m.: doors open, event begins
bullet2-3 pm: hors d’oeuvres & beverages
bullet2-4:30 pm: silent auctions
bullet3:00 p.m.: first silent auction closes
bullet3-4 p.m.: Library T-Shirt Fashion Show, lasagne feed
bullet3:30 pm: second silent auction closes
bullet4:00 p.m.: third silent auction closes, outcry auction begins 4:30 p.m.: last silent auction closes 4:30-5:00 p.m,: door prize draw (must be present to win) 5:00 p.m.: doors close, event ends

For more information about the John Trigg Ester Library, please e-mail or go to

bulletThe Alaska Village Arts Gift Store is right across from the Pentecostal Church on the Parks Highway. It is owned by Rod & Ivet Hall. Ivet is an accomplished whale bone carver, sculptor. They  have a portfolio of quite a few of her designs. The store represents 50 to 100 Alaskan Artists throughout the summer and is constantly expanding. The store is open from May to September , 5 to 7 days a week. The couple live in the Goldstream Valley, about 9 miles from the store. The store's website can be found here.
bullet Ester Community Association  According to their earlier webpage (linked from the one above), "The Ester Community Association was founded in 1941 to enhance and simplify the lives of Ester-area residents, and to help them work together for common goals. It has been a forum for cooperation and debate within our community, served as a social organization and the mechanism through which projects are undertaken to enhance the community. It maintains an area water well, a local meeting venue, and has built, maintained, and improved the Ester Community Park. The ECA supports and often works in cooperation with other groups...While the ECA was incorporated in 1981, it remains a loose-knit social organization, taking on political and fiscal aspects of the community as necessary. "


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