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Notes from the Trail: Excitement building for Ramble and Ride

Ramble and Ride is coming up Aug. 4 to 6 and there will be events throughout Old Town for the entire family beginning Friday night.
The Down to Earth Gallery will once again host the Ramble and Ride kick off concert, this year on Friday, Aug. 4. NNSL file photo

Ramble and Ride is coming up Aug. 4 to 6 and there will be events throughout Old Town for the entire family beginning Friday night.

In the true spirit of community events, it’s free.

The underlying purpose of this now-17-year-old event is community and relationship building — anything that might take away from that is refused.

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What we do not have in sponsorship funding, we make up for in community spirit. We do not have a pristine piece of property on the outskirts of town reserved for us but what we do have is the support of Old Town people who put up with the hustle and bustle of a couple thousand visitors throughout that August long weekend. They understand that shedding a light on businesses and Yellowknife character is part of the raison d’etre, but also that the event has morphed into something much bigger — something intended to bring us together as an unlikely Northern family.

None of our board members work for the government so we don’t have to worry about conflict of interest or being told what we can do. While we greatly appreciate the financial support we do get, we understand that keeping distance from key funders is crucial to discouraging interference while building a vibrant community voice. Make no mistake — by their very nature, true festivals can be intensely political. Just ask some of the greats such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger (“This land is your land…” re: dismantling colonial structures) about their activism and socialistic principles.

Indeed, while the roots of folk festivals can be traced to medieval times, some have also credited Eleanor Roosevelt for what they have become. She wanted to give people from diverse cultures the opportunity to show their talents and break down racial barriers. We hope Ramble and Ride will break some of those down too.

The folk festival here also features cultural and often Indigenous talent this year, which is great. However, it’s not possible for many to attend because it’s too expensive. We don’t want that. We want to build community.

In this day and age when so many are just trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, we want people to come together in a safe, positive atmosphere for all.

We know that the true intention of music festivals is to initiate change and some have been remarkably successful on that front. One contributed to the downfall of a president and the ending of a war. Maybe climate change would be a good theme for the next festival since we lost three Canadian firefighters in the last couple weeks and have had our highway shut down. We will make reference to fire prevention and safety at Ramble and Ride, the courage of firefighters and the preservation of green space because we want this gathering to be relevant as well as entertaining.

Ramble and Ride will do its best to exclude no one. Our volunteers will only be asked to work a few hours when they can (yes, we provide free T-shirts and a good meal too) and vendors who cannot afford to pay the $40 for a spot won’t have to. Maybe next year will be better for them. We are good with that.

Not even furry friends will be barred if they are leashed and controlled. We would rather have them with you than alone and possibly suffering in a vehicle.

Community gatherings open to everyone are essential in this day and age of bridge building.

Come down to the Down to Earth gallery stage on the night of Friday, Aug. 4 and listen to some of our great local musicians for free. The best come from the North anyway and as Northerners we are here to support them. That’s what Northerners do. We hope that night will give you a taste of the great weekend ahead. It’s safe, clean, educational and fun for everyone.

In short, it’s the stuff Yellowknife is really made of.