Long John Jamboree lineup stacked with family fun


The forecast for this year’s Long John Jamboree is snowy with a slight chance of planned “mayhem” and a storm of affordable family fun, says the festival’s executive director.

For the last seven years, the jamboree has marked the time around spring equinox with busy days on the bay. This year will be no exception, said Nancy McNeil, Long John Jamboree’s executive director.

Long John Jamboree executive director Nancy MacNeil sits atop one of the many ice blocks that will be raffled off for sledgehammer destruction.
Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

“We have lots of free and super cheap games for everybody to be able to enjoy,” said MacNeil.

“We’re going to be setting that huge block (of wood) on the ice on fire,” she said, adding that the structure’s theme this year’s Burn on the Bay is gridlock.

“It’s kind of a reflection on having to navigate legal and administrative things in order to make the magic happen. Obviously when you’re throwing an event like this on ice … we have to do a lot of work to make sure everything is safe,” said MacNeil.

The Jamboree hosts the De Beers Inspired Ice international ice carving contest, sports, games, art and food vendors.
The Long John Jamboree is an opportunity for Yellowknifers to spend part of Friday and the weekend out on the ice with neighbours, said city councillor Adrian Bell.

Carver Larry MacFarlane prepares blocks of ice for carvings Tuesday.
Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

“We’ve got pretty cold winters, long winters and lots of darkness and come this time of year its wonderful to be able to shake all that off and celebrate the coming spring and the end of winter,” said Bell, who was founding president of the jamboree in 2012.

The jamboree falls on a half-day civic holiday, modeled by the city and the GNWT.

“It’s to show support for the Long John Jamboree and Snowking’s Winter Festival and try to encourage community spirit and people to gather together on the ice and celebrate,” said Bell. The civic holiday is a long-standing tradition that goes back to Caribou Carnival, the Long John Jamboree’s predecessor.

Caribou Carnival started in 1955 and when it fizzled out, community members rebuilt and rebranded the popular festival.

“We’re bringing back some favourites from previous years like Terriers in tiaras, our dog fashion show and talent pageant,” said MacNeil.

Visitors can also participate in a human dogsled race, a bicycle pump track, three hole mini-put, volleyball, rugby, broomball and ultimate Frisbee.

There will be games including giant Jenga, giant Connect Four, “hungry, hungry, humans,” and “kid curling” as part of the Kids Cabin Games, said MacNeil.

“We know that parents love throwing their kids across the ice and watching how far they can go and so this year we’re going to be giving out prizes for it. If you’re a kid who likes getting thrown across the ice or a parent who likes throwing kids across the ice, you can come out and see what kind of distance you can get,” said MacNeil.

This year’s festival wrangled together funding from sponsors and support from its volunteers to put on the city’s hallmark event.

“If people want to volunteer, they can stop by the volunteer tent and see if we’re looking for help because we are going to be looking for fun people to help us pull off events,” said MacNeil.

“Especially this year with Arctic Winter Games, the North is stretched pretty far this year, but we have sponsors and great volunteers that show up to make sure this is one of the fun weekends.”

“This year we didn’t’ get (city) funding but I’m looking at it as an opportunity to build a better relationship,” she said.
“I know there are a lot of events that depend on the city and I know that we would love to have sustainable long-term partnerships with them rather than filling out an application every year.”

To boost funding for the festival, organizers are creating a raffle to destroy the ice sculptures with sledgehammers and pitchforks at the end of the festival.

“Every year for safety reasons we have to take down our ice carvings. So this year we’re selling raffle tickets for five dollars and 10 winners will be able to join us with a sledgehammer and pitchfork to take down some of those international ice carvings.”

Events Listing


Opening ceremonies at 12 p.m.
Terriers and Tiaras at 3 p.m.
Disco Skate at 8:30 p.m.


Indenti-Dawg race by NWT Pride at 12 p.m.
Cabin Winter Games: Kid’s Curling at 1 p.m.
Snow Beach Volleyball at 2 p.m.
Simpsons Trivia at 6 p.m.
Open Mic at 7 p.m.
Burn on the Bay at 8:30 p.m.
Welder’s Daughter at 10:15 p.m.


Fat Bike Race at 12 p.m.
Rugby at 12 p.m.
Cabin Winter Games Sled Cross at 12 p.m.

All weekend

De Beers Inspired Ice International ice carving
Heritage photo booth
Helicoper rides
Twin Otter Aerial Tours with Air Tindi
Ice Fishing with BlueFish Services
Cabane à sucre