Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 17, 2014

Rendezvous’ Main Street fun: nostalgia mixed with success

The past weekend was a walk down Memory Lane for many who took in any number of Rendezvous events as the annual festival kicked off.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

OPENING THE EXTRAVAGANZA – Officials and participants gathered Saturday at the snow sculpture on Main Street to open the 50th annual Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. The dignitaires included deputy Premier Elaine Taylor (third from left) and Mayor Dan Curtis (fourth from right). Rendezvous society president Marj Eschak is at the far right (top). CATCHERS AT THE READY – The Ping-Pong Ball Drop was brought back for the A Blast From the Past street festival held over the weekend on Main Street.

The past weekend was a walk down Memory Lane for many who took in any number of Rendezvous events as the annual festival kicked off.

“We had a tremendous weekend,” Marj Eschak, the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival’s president, said in an interview this morning.

With Rendezvous celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the theme of the extended festival is A Blast From The Past.

So, to trigger things, Main Street was closed to traffic from Second to Fourth avenues, with events starting Saturday morning.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, Main Street was buzzing with family activities as local kids and their families took in events like the Ping-Pong Ball Drop, which saw prizes given out depending on what ping-pong ball was caught.

“All those kids were running around,” Eschak said as she recalled Saturday’s scene.

Turkey and chicken bowling, eating contests, a colour war and many other events proved popular even before the festival was officially opened with the ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Main Street and Front Street. That’s also where the official Rendezvous snow carving sits.

And the party atmosphere continued into the evening, with the Party On Main going until 11 p.m. with an outdoor concert featuring The Matinée.

“They filled the house,” Eschak said.

The return of some Rendezvous events to Main Street was a tribute to the festival’s early days when most, if not all, of the events, happened there.

“It was wonderful to be back on Main Street,” Eschak said.

The return to the downtown core has sparked conversations heard throughout the community over the weekend on whether the major part of the festival should indeed return to where it started rather than at Shipyards Park. That’s where it’s been held in recent years and where next weekend’s Rendezvous events are largely scheduled to happen.

Eschak explained the festival has simply outgrown Main Street.

“This was a big effort to put it back on Main Street,” she said of the past weekend’s events.

City workers were a huge help in getting things set up, she noted.

The set-up and take-down of the large tent alone would create issues on Main Street, Eschak said, adding the size of the tent Rendezvous uses now wouldn’t fit on Main Street.

The set-up and take-down of the tent, which features entertainment over the two days in Shipyards and provides a warm-up facility for festival-goers, can begin on the Wednesday before the weekend events are held, and its takedown can happen on the Monday following, she pointed.

She compared that to the rush involved with the smaller tent used on Main Street years ago.

That was a time when a few tired volunteers would remain at the festival site until 1 or 2 a.m. after the events had wrapped up, removing the tent.

Eschak said there’s a higher risk of injury in taking down a tent when those helping are tired after a packed weekend of events.

Now those tired volunteers can go home after the festival on Sunday and come back when they’re more alert on Monday to deconstruct it more safely.

As the action on Main Street continued over the weekend, in other parts of the city, Rendezvous was also well underway.

The candidates running for Rendezvous Queen showed off their stuff during the Queens Fashion Show at the Yukon Inn.

Meanwhile, those in the run for Sourdough Sams kicked off their festivities with a lip sync at the “Sourdough Sam Saloon” – formerly Trapper’s – at the Ramada Hotel (formerly the Westmark Klondike Inn).

On Saturday, both Sam and Queen events continued and will go on until the end of the week.

Joining in many of the events over the weekend were former Queen candidates of the last 50 years, with a reunion ball held Saturday night at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

“There was just a lot of remembering,” Eschak said of seeing so many old friends get together.

“It was a lovely, lovely evening,” she added.

Eschak noted she’s been pleased with the support throughout the community shown in celebrating the 50th anniversary.

Citing what seemed to be an endless list of sponsors, she also noted the volunteer spirit continues to be alive and well, with about 400 volunteers helping out in various capacities over the longer festival. Many of those volunteers take time off work to be part of the events.

The increase in events has also seen Rendezvous add another line of can-can dancers to ensure all events are covered and that dancers get at least a little bit of a break during Rendezvous.

Local businesses and the government have gotten back into the spirit of the festival by having their doors and windows painted with Rendezvous designs.

Eschak hopes that will continue for future Rendezvous celebrations as well.

Rendezvous events will culminate with the major festival activities next weekend at Shipyards Park.

Eschak said the Shipyards Park events will feature a number of the usual competitions along with those which haven’t been part of the festival for a few years such as the whip-saw contest and truck pull.

The annual parade will top off the 50th anniversary next at 3 p.m. next Sunday.

CommentsAdd a comment

John Van Sandick

Feb 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm

It’s about time Whitehorse put the celebrations back on Main Street instead of a bunch of strippers in bars. Bring it back like that Whitehorse, keep those traditions alive.

Sammy

Feb 18, 2014 at 4:55 pm

What are u talking about? Strippers have been coming up for Rendezvous since I can remember. If u don’t like it don’t go.

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