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the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

All about Fat Bear Week and how to enter your vote

This cultural phenomenon is something you don’t want to miss.
Sarabeth Wester
A piece by Sarabeth Wester depicting a chubby bear and it’s cub.

At some point, each and everyone has welcomed a bear into their home. Whether it’s your grandma’s beanie baby collection or your childhood best friend in the form of the traditional teddy, everyone has that special bear in their lives.

What’s not to love about a giant ball of fluff that purposefully makes itself plump to survive winter? If I could eat a whole bunch and sleep through all of the cold and lose pounds, I would too.

Now, my obsession with the fuzzy tanks of the world led my Tiktok into introducing me to my newest addiction: Alaska’s Katmai National Park’s “Fat Bear Week.”

As I stated boldly to our beloved Ed-in-Chief Alex McLemore shortly before this event appeared in my feed: “Anyone who doesn’t love bears is a MASSIVE red flag.”

I still stand by this, so if you don’t love bears, you should grab some snacks and join me for festivities of “Fat Bears Week.”

Fat Bears Week is a contest between bears, an online poll which features “before-and-after” photos showing the absolute glow up and cuteness overload our brown furry friends as they prep and plump for their naps by eating the salmon native to the rivers of the Katmai National Park.

What’s more wonderful than the ability to vote for the bear that embodies the word “fatness” the best while they prepare for hibernation. If this isn’t true body positivity, I don’t know what is.

In 2014, the wonderful people at Katmai started this competition to raise awareness for our fuzzy friends.

Since most humans don’t know how to properly act in the parks or wilderness and can endanger the bears and people in these places, it’s important to understand that most bear attacks are a defense response.

Bears only care about three things: food, cubs, and their space. The lack of understanding between humans and bears is what leads to stigmas that these living breathing stuffies tend to obtain. So enter this contest to bring more awareness.

As the National Park Service says, “All bears are winners but only one true champion [of the competition] will emerge.”

Now, I knew my life wasn’t complete when my attention turned to this lovely page with the

Photo of Jr the Spring Cub by NPS Photo/T. Carmack
(NPS Photo/T. Carmack)

biographies of the bears. So you can learn more about your favorite tufts of fluff and fall helplessly in love as you prepare to vote.

With the Junior competition ending on September 29th, allow me to introduce you to the winner of that division, who will now be competing with the big boys.

This is Jr. His bio tells a story of perseverance and his love of his mom.

He’s a first year competitor in the senior division.

He is so chunky I think he could be rookie of the year. I believe, with some misplaced confidence, I could take a selfie with him or even take this little guy home.

The Katmai competition has become so big that last year, there was even a scandal. Someone had put in thousands of fake votes for Bear Force

One, however, fortunately, even without the extra votes Bear Force One would have prevailed and taken home the title of the champion of Fat Bears Week.

Photo of Jr the Spring Cub after his prehibernation glow up By Credit: NPS Photo/F. Jimenez
(NPS Photo/F. Jimenez)

Personally, I’m rooting for who I hope will be Rookie of the Year, Jr, but I’m excited to see if Otis reclaims his title or if Bear Force One defends his.

Voting opens at 12 pm

Eastern, 9 am Pacific and this will be happening through Tuesday October 10th and I

gotta ask : Who will you be voting for?

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About the Contributor
Sarabeth Wester, Creative Director/Artist
Sarabeth Wester is a senior on The Gauntlet with four years under her belt of hard work in the newsroom as our Creative Director. Her favorite color is purple, she has a cat and a dog who she loves dearly, and she plays video games in her free time - her favorite being Fallout 4 even with it's imperfections. Her favorite movies are Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and Wall-E - she believes everyone should watch them at least once.  

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  • Mr WhelanOct 9, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Bears are my favorite animals. As a small child, I wrote letters to Smokey Bear and received replies from Forest Service employees.