The Long John Jamboree is not happening again this year, according to Chris Coomber, Long John Jamboree president.
A group of residents decided that Yellowknife needed a festival and celebration specifically for the North to “reignite the flame,” after the Caribou Carnival — a former spring festival — ceased.
Long John Jamboree made its debut in 2012. Coomber said the concept was to get more of Yellowknife Dene First Nation and local Indigenous populations involved.
“As soon as we were going to get hands-on with that, the pandemic hits,” he said.
The festival activity that usually draws most people’s attention is the De Beers Ice Carving Competition.
“Teams from all over the world will come to Yellowknife to carve a beautiful piece of ice,” he said.
Unfortunately, during the last couple of events, keeping the ice in good condition was a challenge. One year, with warmer-than-normal temperatures, the whole venue became a giant melting ice field, making it dangerous to walk on so they had to move everything to the Multiplex parking lot.
“By moving everything, that really discouraged a lot of them,” Coomber said.
At the same time, board members are also facing challenges in taking care of their own businesses and families — with the pandemic, things just started to collapse faster.
With fewer people still on board, planning an event for a couple thousand people just became impossible, according to Coomber.
Looking to the future of the Long John Jamboree, Coomber said he’s planning to move to Calgary within the year, and if there is no one to pass the torch to, the fire might just might be extinguished.
When I moved here in 2008, the Caribou Carnival was on its last legs and finding volunteers was so challenging. It was amazing to have folks put together the Long John Jamboree as an alternative and I can appreciate how much work must go into it all.
That’s too bad. Always enjoyed it. Another covid fatality. RIP.