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Long John Jamboree nixed for third straight year; future uncertain

The Long John Jamboree winter carnival won’t take place for the third straight year
An ice-carving competitor works his sculpture during Long John Jamboree in 2014. NNSL file photo

The Long John Jamboree winter carnival won’t take place for the third straight year

This time it’s mainly due to a lack of helping hands, and the long-term fate of the jamboree has been thrown into question, according to Chris Coomber, acting president of the festival.

The few remaining board members are considering putting the event, originally scheduled for the last weekend of March, into a “corporate hibernation,” he said on Monday.

“Right now, the fate of the jamboree is kind of in limbo. We’ve been looking at a few options (for) what we can do with it,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of board members resigning, both in the past year and in the past four or five years … It really takes a community to put on a festival for the community.”

The departure of board members has no single underlying reason, Coomber noted.

“People are starting up their own businesses. They’re dealing with family issues. They’re dealing with building up their own family,” he said.

According to Coomber, the issue may go beyond the jamboree as interest in other Yellowknife festivals has been waning.

“I hate to say it but I’ve talked to a few other organizers of some of the non-profit organizations in town and it’s a bit of a widespread issue that there aren’t a lot of people that want to volunteer for these events and really put in that time,” he said.

Coomber and his colleagues hope that a new group of individuals will emerge within a few years to continue the Long John Jamboree after hibernation mode.

“So that the assets don’t have to be dissolved, we don’t have to hand off any remaining physical and capital assets to the Office of the Public Trustee and completely get rid of everything that is the jamboree,” Coomber said of the potential strategy.

The Covid-19 pandemic was another factor in the decision not to proceed, as it was last year.

“It’s made it a lot more complicated to logistically organize and produce the event,” he acknowledged.