This weekend, Colony Days takes over downtown Palmer, and with it, plenty of opportunities to get outside, have fun and celebrate the rich history of the Matanuska Colony.

Colony Days kicks off Friday with several events, including the weekly Friday Flings open air market. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., kids games will be taking place in the Palmer Library parking lot as well, including the Army National Guard rock wall. From noon to 5 p.m. at the Palmer Depot, a sidewalk art contest is taking place. At 4 p.m., don't miss the hilarious bed races on South Valley Way. Friday winds down with the popular Colony Days Classic Car Rally on Main Street.

On Saturday, you don't want to miss the annual Colony Days parade, which runs throughout the downtown area along Main Street. The parade begins at 11 a.m., but make sure you get there early for a great viewing spot. Other popular Saturday events include the kids games, an open house at the Colony House Museum, an antique farm tractors display, an open-air market, a tractor pull, live music and much more. Many of the events continue on Sunday as well.

For a complete list of events, schedules and locations, visit www.palmerchamber.org

Colony Days celebrates the Matanuska Colonist project, when 200 families were relocated to the Palmer area from the Midwest in 1935, under FDR's New Deal program. They all received 40 acres and had to "prove up" the land by establishing farming and agricultural operations. The Colony faced many adversities, and more than half left the area within a year. Still, those who stayed persevered, and helped establish the town of Palmer, which still has strong roots in the agriculture industry.

Colony Days takes place the second weekend of June each year, with a similar festival, Colony Christmas, held the second weekend in December.