HomeOutdoorsFat Bear Week 2021 Begins Wednesday, Sept. 29: What to Know

Fat Bear Week 2021 Begins Wednesday, Sept. 29: What to Know

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Get ready, Outsiders: The chubby cubbies, behemoth boars, and significant sows of Fat Bear Week are back to face off for 2021’s bracket!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the best time of the year. The heat of summer is wearing off, fall is rolling in, and the fat bears are out in full force.

If you follow our National Parks System, then you’re probably familiar with the most important celebration of the season year: Fat Bear Week.

What is Fat Bear Week, you may find yourself asking anyway? For an entire week, a single-elimination tournament will be held by the fine folks at Explore.org and Katmai National Park & Reserve in Alaska. The tournament is simple: Katmai’s brown bears ravage the Brooks River in search of salmon during their summer spawn. Seen 24/7 on Explore’s fantastic Bearcam, the sows, boars, and cubs absolutely gorge themselves on their favorite fishy delicacy. And by the time autumn rolls around, they’ve become so unbelievably rotund that we humans can’t help but pick our favorite.

Bookmark: Fat Bear Week Live Cam

It’s all done in the name of a healthy winter hibernation for the browns themselves. But why waste a perfect opportunity to get people involved with our incredible national parks?

Fat Bear Week is, in essence, Hungry Hungry Hippos meets the Hunger Games meets March Madness. What more could you want?

Once the bears of Katmai are as fattened as a bear can possibly be, Outsiders the world over get to vote on our favorite rotund King or Queen of Chonk via a bracket system we’ll break down below. It’s truly glorious.

Still not sold? Have but a taste of past competitors with this brilliant 2020 shot of Bear #435, affectionately known as Holly, above. See 2020’s tournament winner here, as well.

How Do I Vote for 2021’s Bracket?

Firstly, add the official Fat Bear Week website to your bookmarks now. Make it an icon on your phone. Do what you must. 2021’s competition begins on Wednesday, September 29, and you won’t want to miss a beat. Or bear, rather.

As for how to vote for Fat Bear Week, that’s easy! All you have to do is go to the official voting website on Explore.com. The voting page will first go live with a test vote to see who is ready for this incredible week. Tens of thousands of test votes alone were cast last year, so we’re expecting an even bigger turnout for 2021.

Keep an eye on the voting page, and come September 29, Fat Bear Week voting will officially begin at 12 PM Noon Eastern time on Wednesday.

Note: Matchups will be open for voting between 12 – 9 p.m. Eastern (9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Pacific) each day.

Additionally, the festivities began early this year with the first official Junior bracket for 2021! Voting for this round was held September 23-24, with 132’s spring cub becoming the winner! Click here for all the info you need on Fat Bear Junior.

Now, with one click of a button come October 5, you’ll be able to cast your vote for the winner after one gloriously chubby week. You can even bookmark the link below for an easy route to daily voting. It really is that brilliantly simple.

Bookmark: Fat Bear Week Voting

So whether you’re a brown bear enthusiast or not, the week promises to bring some much-needed levity after a tumultuous couple of years. So get those fat bear-loving eyeballs, voting fingers, and Fat Bear Week hashtags ready! The voting begins Wednesday, September 29!

Until then, stick with your fellow Outsiders for daily bracket updates and exclusive interviews with Katmai National Park staff for our National Parks Journal: Fat Bear Week specials.

Happy Voting, Outsiders!