2020 Long John Jamboree dates, plans uncertain

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The Long John Jamboree is entering its ninth year, but when – or if – it actually takes place this year remains a mystery. 

Garett Cochrane, acting president with the jamboree, stated via Facebook that an update will be provided later this week to media and that a small group is trying to “figure it all out.”

Jamie Look, an ice sculptor, poses for cameras in front of her team’s ice sculpture called ‘Arches’ as part of the 2019 ice carving championship. Teams had to work fast due unseasonably warm temperatures and melting ice. The event was held at the Fieldhouse for the first time since the festival was founded at Yellowknife Bay in 2019.
NNSL file photo

Michelle Demeule, who was president of the jamboree last year, stated in an email that she resigned from the position last October.

Past participants with the event declined comment regarding the event, referring questions to the jamboree board. 

Last year, NNSL Media reported the festival had to be located outside the Fieldhouse due to unseasonably warm temperatures- the first time it was held away from Yellowknife Bay since its founding in 2012.

Over the last two years, there have also been financial challenges with festival operations due to high-winds in 2018. 

As reported by NNSL Media, organizers had been forced to to close the beer garden and lost a full day of events as a result.

This led to the loss of revenue leading into last year and questions as to whether the 2019 festival would even take place.

There have been few updates since the event closed last winter with no postings on its Facebook page since its $10,000 Bingo in October 2019. 

The jamboree’s Facebook page, however, indicates that a date is supposed to be set for “sometime in March 2020” and that an announcement was to have been made in November. 

Year 9 of Yellowknife’s Winter Festival will be sometime in March 2020, on the ice of Great Slave Lake between the Snowking’s Castle and the government dock,” states the page.

The automatic response from the Jamboree’s Facebook messager inbox has a similar notice. 

The jamboree was noticeably absent from the City of Yellowknife’s Special Events page as of Jan. 13. 

In contrast, Yellowknife’s other popular winter festival, the Snowking’s Winter Festival, has set dates from Feb. 29 to March 29 for its 25th season.

The Snowking’s festival has been quite active on social media over the past several months, including with the announcement of its Great Melt music lineup made Sunday. Other posts include video footage of some of ice block cutting and early snow castle construction. 

Founding Long John Jamboree president and visionary Adrian Bell sends off the crowd with the jamboree board in 2014. NNSL file photo

Adrian Bell, the first president of the Long John Jamboree and among the biggest champions to revive a winter festival in the spirit of the city’s now defunct Caribou Carnival, declined to comment when contacted by Yellowknifer.

“I have heard some things but I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment because I’m no longer involved and I don’t have all the details,” he stated.

Terry Kruger, spokesperson for De Beers Canada — a major corporate sponsor for the festival — also declined comment about the event or its date.

He added that in 2017 the company had committed five years of funding between 2018 and 2022 for the Jamboree & De Beers Inspired Ice International Ice Carving Competition. 

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Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Working in Yellowknife, he covers education-based stories and general news but has also taken other beats in the past, including city hall and entertainment. He is a champion of the printed word and the importance of newspapers. As a board member of the United Way NWT and Rotary True North, he believes in the importance of civic engagement and community building. He spends his spare time with his boxer Sharona. Simon can be reached at (867) 766-8295 and editorial@nnsl.com.

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