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For four days the Mackenzie East Branch was party-central, as the Inuvik Muskrat Jamboree made a triumphant return to the Beaufort Delta to celebrate its 63rd year.

After a last minute cancellation in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic raged on, the Jamboree opted to crown a king and queen anyway. Raising a record-setting $70,130 for the festival, Queen and King of the jamboree Carmen and Brian Wade welcomed the crowd.

Two racers battle for inches in the Men’s Open Class 100 Mile Track Race on April 12. Races went on well into the night, with the men’s race not starting until after 6 p.m.

“We hope everybody has a safe and enjoyable weekend,” said Brian Wade in his address during a virtual opening ceremony.

Organizers did things a bit differently this year, such as livestreaming the jigging and talent shows. During the games on the ice, contestants were required to wear masks. Festival-goers were asked to keep six muskrats apart.

Big races for big cash prizes

Even with the limitations, everyone was still able to party and Inuvik Muskrat Jamboree made up the reduced program with prizes. Snowmobile races roared through the valley for six separate races. With $31,800 in prize money on the table, racers brought their best sleds out for the crowd.

Noel Cockney keeps his eye on the finish line during the Men’s Snowshoe Race. Cockney narrowly won the race after his main competitor’s snowshoes malfunctioned in the final steps towards the finish line.

But there wasn’t just snowmobile races. Snowshoe racers were able to stretch their legs during the Sunday afternoon festivities. Meanwhile, townsfolk tried their skills at games ranging from egg tosses to foot races on solid ice. Competitions on everything from nail hammering races to muskrat skinning contests put the Delta’s skills on full display.

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Hayleigh Conway takes a crack at harpoon tossing during games on April 11. Competitors attempted to strike a burlap bag with an orange bull’s eye. Our reporter can confirm the harpoon is heavier than it looks.

Likely the busiest it will be all year, the Aklavik Ice road was an all-out highway for the dogsled race. Cars followed their favourite team as they made the 24 kilometre journey.

Muskrat Jamboree Committee chairperson Greta Sittichinli wished festival-goers good health and thanked everyone involved in bringing it together.

“We would like to extend appreciation to our organizers and sponsors who commit their time and energy so that we can host these weekend festivities,” she said.

Thomas Anthony sprawls as he tries to catch an egg during the egg toss on April 11. Teams of men and women played catch with an egg and the last group to not break the egg was declared the winner.

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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