The hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk hosted their seventh annual Land of the Pingos music festival from Aug. 9 to 11, which saw several local and regional artists come out and perform old time tunes at the Donald Kuptana Sr. Memorial Arena.
“It’s for the people, the community. It’s something for the community,” said Erwin Elias, the festival’s coordinator and deputy mayor at the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. “The whole idea for the music festival is to try and showcase our local and regional performers.”
This year’s lineup featured artists from communities such as Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson, Tuktoyaktuk, and even as far as Alberta.
Headliners included the Siglit Drummers and Dancers, Charlie Furlong, Henson Nasogaluak, Gustin Adjun, Kolton and Tianna Gordon-Ruben, The Beluga Boyz, Rockin Fiddle, a Hank Williams Jr. Impersonator and more.
“You’ve got some people that have been playing for years throughout the Delta. It gives them an opportunity to showcase themselves, and of course the knowledge they bring to the festival,” said Elias.
A dance floor was set up in front of the main stage, where festival-goers were invited to participate in spot dances, square dances and jigging contests.
“My favourite part is seeing the dance floor full,” said Elias.
A cookout was hosted on the second day of the festival, as well as a jam session and open mic event.
“It’s super important because you want to keep everyone busy. We’re promoting a drug and alcohol free weekend as well,” said Elias.
In addition to promoting sobriety, he said that one of the festival’s main goals is to also encourage youth to pick up a guitar and start playing.
“Another thing is that seven years ago, there were people here that never played guitar – some young kids. Now they’re all playing guitar,” he said. “Henson Nasogaluak is actually one of them. It’s amazing to see. I hope we get 20 more people like that in the next 10 years.”
He added that he didn’t think that the festival would be where it is today when he launched it seven years ago.
“Compared to some other festivals around the region, such as Midway Lake (near Fort McPherson) – which has been on for over 30 years – this is pretty young,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think we’re trying to give the same message. We’re trying to promote our local and regional performers.”
As a member of The Beluga Boyz, Elias said that he’s always used music as a tool for healing, and he hopes that the youth in the community will do the same.
“I hope that some young kid in here grabs a guitar after the weekend and starts trying to play. I’d rather see kids trying to play instruments or singing, rather than being into alcohol or drugs,” he said.