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  • Patricia Parker

Pin Trading: The 21st Sport of the Arctic Winter Games

Arctic Winter Games not only bring amazing athletes, happy guests and many different countries together, but also bring extensive pin collections and pin collectors to the Games. Many of these collectors have pin collections that number in the thousands. These pin traders have come from all over the country to be here at the Games.

The main location for all this excitement in pin trading can be found in Palmer, Alaska. The pin vendors have set up their tables, have their pins all laid out, and are ready to make a trade. The depot is not the only place to trade pins; however, pin trading is taking place valley-wide, and the pin traders are showing up, with a smile on their face, and a lanyard around their neck. Some of these lanyards are loaded heavily with many different pins. Some have just a few they are willing to trade with.  But they are eager to start the hunt for a pin they just must have. The trading of pins is not just about the vendors with tables of pins. In the pin trading world, anyone you see with a lanyard with pins attached is someone who may have just the perfect pin for you. 

You see a lanyard with pins, you walk up and introduce yourself. You show them the pins you have available to trade and they do the same. More often than not, a trade is made and both are happy with their newly acquired pin. This new pin then may be put back on the lanyard for another trade. Or tucked inside a pocket. As maybe this pin has now been “pulled off the table” so to speak, and is now part of the pin traders permanent collection.

Janet Pacey who has come from Yellowknife Canada to be here at AWG, and is one of the vendors at the Alaska Airline Arctic Winter Games HQ inside the Palmer Train Depot. Janet offers some pins for free to encourage everyone to participate in pin trading. She wants others to see how much fun it is, and how quickly you can become passionate about pin trading once you get started. Janet openly shares information about pins and enjoys meeting others from around the country. She has approx 20,000 AWG pins in her extensive collection. Her most coveted pin is the pin she received approximately two weeks ago which was the first pin to be introduced in 1972, the golden ulu. 

Janet said she loves everything about pin trading and that  “the cool thing about pins is that it brings people who don’t speak each other’s languages together”. Janet was sharing a table with George Smith, who was on the board of directors in 1972 and was instrumental in the very humble beginnings in the introduction of the first pin, the coveted 1972 golden ulu. Fast forward to 2024 where the pins offered for the AWG have over 150 flavors, styles, and varieties. A vast difference to just the simple one that was introduced in 1972. Many of these pins in the 2024 collections are highly coveted. As some of these pins are only given to the athletes so they cannot be bought at any of the venues that sell AWG pins.

Other pins can only be attained by shopping at other local venues who have a specific pin that they are handing out for free or with a purchase from their establishment. Another way to obtain a special pin, is by going to the events, or by being out and about and looking for others with lanyards of pins, and try making a trade. This keeps pin collectors on their toes in the hunt for that special pin that they may have been looking for since the day they arrived here at the AWG of Alaska.


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