With a pint of Guinness sitting in front of me, I was surrounded by a bustling crowd of both locals and visitors — many of which had likely trudged across the ice earlier day to see the sights of the local festival. And as I looked around, the reality of where I was sank in and I grinned.
Yellowknife. I was in sitting in a bar in Yellowknife.
The history, the lifestyle, the architecture and the legends. The entirety of my situation after spending a year living North of 60 seemed to dawn on me. And even better, in just a few more months, I’ll get to play tour guide to this rough but beautiful Northern city.
What had brought me to the ‘knife? A local festival held on Yellowknife Bay called the Long John Jamboree. Shortly after I arrived in Fort Smith last year, I heard of the newly-established festival, and I even ended up writing a story about it while working at Northern Journal (login ID and password are both “srj”). This year was to be the second festival, with hopefully many more to come.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the inaugural Jamboree, but attending this year more than made up for the missed opportunity in 2012. Even better, I made the trek to Yellowknife in my new wheels with my two roommates — a long road trip for a weekend, but without a doubt plenty of fun.
The weekend was bitterly cold, with nighttime temperatures dropping to -35C (without wind chill) and the daytime temperatures not rising much about -25C. It might have kept some people away from the event, but based on the busy parking lot and the number of people watching the dog trick competition, the ice carvers, the Zumba performers (see pic below) and the Snow King Castle admirers, it was clear locals and visitors alike were willing to brave the temperatures for a little fun out on the ice.
My only complaint really has little to do with the Jamboree, but more to do with the fact I don’t know Yellowknife all that well. I missed the dogsled and skijoring races, as well as the Abominable Snow Race, simply because I had no idea where they were taking place. That’s my own fault, but a few signposts would help point us visitors to the ‘knife in the right direction when we’re clueless.
But kudos to the Long John Jamboree team for a great time. Temperature aside, it was a beautiful weekend with plenty of things to keep everyone busy and having fun.
And now, a quick photo of the Zumba team on the stage: