Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 24, 2014

‘All Yukoners were engaged’: Rendezvous head

After years of careful planning and budgeting, the 50th anniversary of the annual Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival went beyond the expectations of festival organizers.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ALL-STAR LINE-UP – Daniel Lapp, Calvin Vollrath and Mark Sullivan (left to right) perform Friday at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Fiddle Show.

After years of careful planning and budgeting, the 50th anniversary of the annual Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival went beyond the expectations of festival organizers.

From Saturday’s crowning of Rendezvous Queen Liz Foubister, Miss Thaw Di Gras Carnival, to the snow carving competition to the chainsaw chuck, the festival’s first drag dance, Sourdough Sams events, the Ping Pong Ball Drop on Main Street, performances by children’s entertainer Bobs and Lolo, and numerous competitions, the 50th anniversary involved
everyone in the community, Rendezvous president Marj Eschak said in an interview this morning.

“All Yukoners were engaged. You could feel it,” she said, noting she heard from a number of visitors from Outside who noted the community enthusiasm for Rendezvous throughout the city.

Events under the theme of Blast From the Past spanned more than two weeks. They kicked off with a weekend of activity on Main Street as a tribute to the festival’s original location and wrapped up with Sunday afternoon’s annual parade downtown.

“Everybody stepped up to the plate,” Eschak said, emphasizing the work both office staff and volunteers did over the two weeks, many of whom didn’t make it home until well after 1 a.m.

Sponsors also came through. All the events were either sold out or packed to capacity in the cases of free events.

In Shipyards Park Saturday and Sunday, crowds showed up for many of the annual unique Yukon competitions such as the Chainsaw Chuck, which saw Cliff Charbonneau take first place for the men with a distance of 45 feet. Lucy Svehla came in first in the women’s category with a distance of 31 feet, seven inches.

Participants tested their strength in the annual Flour Packing Contest. Don Tuton came in first for the men, carrying 768 lbs. a distance of 47 feet, five inches.

Svehla dominated the women’s category there as well, carrying 548 lbs. a distance of 25 feet, 2 1/2 inches.

A long list of other competitions were also held, with spectators taking in all the action around the park while snacking on some traditional Rendezvous fare like the maple taffy that L’Association franco-yukonnaise always delivers from its Cabane à Sucre.

Kids at the park, meanwhile, could be found taking in KidsFest with sliding competitions on the hill and activities inside and around the Frank Slim Building.

That was in addition to the annual Rendezvous kids’ events which happen at Whitehorse Elementary School.

Before enjoying the park’s activities, many headed down to the CYO Hall to enjoy a pancake breakfast.

The action didn’t die down when the sun sank either.

On Saturday, park-goers were treated to a fireworks display set to the music of Led Zeppelin with a medley of the band’s music recorded by the All City Band.

The night before, the Sheepdogs performed in the tent at Shipyards Park. The show wasn’t without some controversy, however, as residents were left waiting outside in the cold after doors were supposed to open.

As Marsh Lake resident Audrey Bell described in a letter to the Star today, she and her husband joined a group of neighbours who headed downtown to take in the concert.

They joined the line-up for the show. It wasn’t until well after doors were supposed to open that they did, leaving shivering music fans in -25 C weather demanding that volunteers open the doors.

This morning, Eschak acknowledged that the doors were opened later than planned because things weren’t ready on time.

To comply with liquor laws, certain things had to be in place before staff could legally allow people into the concert.

She also pointed out that triple events were happening in the park at the time. While things were running behind, she said, everyone worked to make things run as smoothly as possible.

She confirmed as well that during the Queens’ tickets raffle, officials had to correct an error when they began drawing ticket prizes in reverse of the order. They soon corrected it without any issues, she said.

With so much happening, Eschak noted if these were among the few issues to arise, then the overall festival went off well.

Volunteers, many of whom took time off work to help out at the two-week festival, went above and beyond to make it “so absolutely amazing,” Eschak said.

A volunteer appreciation party was held in the main tent following the wrap-up parade to thank them for all their tireless work.

Eschak noted it was a great way to thank the volunteers in a timely manner while the tent was still up.

There were performances to be had, and it’s something she’s not ruling out for future Rendezvous extravanganzas as well.

As for this year’s version, Eschak said the Rendezvous spirit everyone in town seemed to have for the 50th anniversary especially stood out for her.

Next week, the Rendezvous board will meet and discuss this year’s festival, looking at what went right and what might be done differently in the future.

See related coverage and photo spread.

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