Well, that was epic.
Three days of workshops, fireworks, dog sled rides, dancing, singing, movies and snow carving. All within walking distance.
And all for free.
To heck with the Calgary Stampede. This is where it’s at. Normally festivals like this only exist to suck money away at every opportunity and invariably detracts from the experience as you’re fishing for extra coins to pay for marked up parking, food or entry to the show.
Not here. You could have spent the entire weekend entertained, eaten muktuk and reindeer stew, learned how to hoop dance, make quilts and lanterns and even your own snow sculpture, watched several movies, taken your children on dogsled rides and enjoyed concerts without having to spend a dime.
But even if you did spend money, the prices of food or at the market were no different than any other time of the year.
How is this possible? Best I can tell, it was the long, long hours put in by the festival’s organizers — who are far too numerous to list here. But I can say with absolute certainty there were a lot of faces I saw at every single event, from the start of the morning to the wee hours near midnight, making sure things ran as smoothly as they could with daily highs of -30C or colder.
If you know someone who put in some time to help out at the festival, be sure to give them a pat on the back. This place does festivals right and the enthusiasm organizers put into their craft should be encouraged.
I have attended many festivals throughout Canada. Never have I seen one so strongly oriented towards the people it was being put on for. A town with such high cost of living could easily price-gouge an event like this to bring in revenue. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, the community gives back to its members.
Looking forward, it seems like upcoming festivals have a similar grain — come enjoy our hospitality, learn something new and check out what we’ve been up to. Compared to the marketing monstrosities of K-Days or the aforementioned “greatest show on earth” this is a wonderful breath of fresh air.
Some feedback was passed to town council that the festival was too spread out. Personally, I thought it was just fine, considering you can walk just about anywhere here in a matter of minutes. Though I can appreciate being outside in -40C winds for any length of time is less than desirable and if you have mobility issues something like a shuttle bus would be a good idea.
If I were to suggest any feedback, I would say the Arctic Village could have used some better lighting and signage or some outdoor heaters to make the activities more accessible, since the amount of daylight is at a minimum (as implied by the name of the festival.)
It also would have been nice to see more usage of some venues and more acts. Reuben and the Dark did an excellent show at the Igloo Church — perhaps there could be a second show, or maybe the some of the local hangouts could host a concert or two.
Ideas for next time if possible. But regardless, it was a fantastic festival and the organizers should be proud.