Snowking considers earlier start for next winter festival

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As the warm weather has caused the Snowking castle to melt and the entrance to sink 'Under the Sea', the festival will be closed for the remainder of the year, one week earlier than usual. Brett McGarry/NNSL
As the warm weather has caused the Snowking castle to melt and the entrance to sink ‘Under the Sea’, the festival will be closed for the remainder of the year, one week earlier than usual.
Brett McGarry/NNSL

After Saturday’s early closure of the Snowking Winter Festival due to warm weather, festival organizers are looking to the future.

Snowking Anthony Foliot said on Sunday that having the festival start a few weeks earlier is definitely an option.

“Maybe we will downsize our scale and start St. Valentines day,” he said. “We don’t have to have it in the month of March. There’s nothing to say we can’t do it earlier.”

Foliot said he and the rest of the staff had high hopes that this was going to be a “banner year” which was reflected in their ambitious build.

“Maybe we have to realize people will continue to idle their trucks and waste energy and cause greenhouse gas emission and this kind of thing (the melting) can happen,” Foliot said.

An earlier festival means the snow castle’s build season would be shortened as construction teams must wait for thick enough ice to start work. This does not usually happen before Jan. 1.

“We could keep our scale more manageable so we could get ‘er done faster and put the festival on when we have no risk of shutting down early,” Foliot said.

 

Raising funds

Foliot said there should be no financial strain but it is “yet to be determined” if the festival, which has traditionally relied on ticket sales, is in any financial hot water.

“We have a contingency plan in place,” said Foliot. “Our raffle draw we had at the beginning of the season was so successful and raised over $20,000. If it turns out we have to go sell some more tickets, then so be it.”

Foliot said there would be a lot of people willing to make sure the festival doesn’t suffer financially.

“Basically everyone who needs to get paid will get paid, then I’m the last guy,” he said.

Brie O’Keefe, a member of the band Flora and the Fireweeds, which played the festival earlier, has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover some of the lost revenue from the year.

“I’m a born and raised Yellowknifer who remembers when the castle began and I’ve loved what it’s grown into,” said O’Keefe via Facebook messenger.

“I had an idea about donating what I would have paid for shows I didn’t get to see, and others said they would like to do the same,” she said.

So far the campaign has raised over $1,400 of its $5,000 goal in under 24 hours.

But Foliot said he’ll be insisting that money is donated to charity and the effort put into the campaign was “unnecessary.”

“We won’t be taking that money,” he said. “I’ll be strongly advocating that the money will be given to charity. We’ll be standing on our own two feet.”

 

Last flood of guests

The festival closed with The Heavyweights Brass Band playing to a packed house on Saturday.

“We had our show done and no one was really whining or complaining, everyone understood,” Foliot said.

“They were standing in a decent amount of slush and water. Only one guy got a soaker, but that’s what you get for wearing uptown shoes instead of rubber boots like a real Notherner or Old Towner.”

The early closure is the first in the festival’s 24 year history.

One of the main causes of the shutdown was courtyard flooding. Ironically, this year’s theme was Under the Sea.

Anthony Foliot, the Snowking, said the flooding was caused by an anchor buoy under the ice worming it's way up to the surface in the warm temperatures. "You need a scuba team to get in there," Foliot said. Photo courtesy of Anthony Foliot (Instagram: flipfone_daddy)
Anthony Foliot, the Snowking, said the flooding was caused by an anchor buoy under the ice worming it’s way up to the surface in the warm temperatures. “You need a scuba team to get in there,” Foliot said.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Foliot (Instagram: flipfone_daddy)

“We pushed it to the end there last weekend but the courtyard is totally flooded,” Foliot said.

Apparently an old anchor buoy was under the surface of the ice in the courtyard and the warm weather allowed it to worm it’s way up to the surface, causing the flooding.

“It’s a piece of traditional knowledge I won’t be forgetting,” said Foliot. “You always learn as you build.”