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Snowking, in ‘no crisis’ this year, launches reverse raffle

A young visitor to Yellowknife's Snowcastle - Tawna Brown-NWT Tourism
A young visitor to Yellowknife's Snowcastle. Tawna Brown/NWT Tourism

Yellowknife’s Snowking took the unusual step of declaring “no crisis” as festival organizers launched their latest fundraiser.

The build-up to last year’s festival featured a scramble to cover the costs of meeting conditions imposed by the territory’s fire marshal.

This year, organizers say a raffle will raise funds to cover the festival’s ever-increasing operational costs instead of addressing a specific issue.

“To help flog fundraising tickets, we usually identify some sort of financial shortfall that needs just the right, raffle-sized plug to stop the leak,” said the festival’s Mike Mitchell in a news release.



“This year, we’ve been wracking our brains trying our damnedest to concoct just such a crisis, but to no avail.”

Winners on opening night

The Snowking Winter Festival, founded and hosted by the Snowking – Anthony Foliot – on Yellowknife Bay each March since 1996, sees a giant castle erected on the ice for visitors to enjoy.

This year’s reverse raffle will see organizers sell 200 tickets, at $100 each, which also include an adult season pass for the 2019 festival.

Tickets, available from organizers or the Down to Earth Gallery, will be drawn in February until only a handful remain – and those remaining participants pick up the prizes. The last remaining ticket will win a grand prize of $2,000.



Those prizes will be awarded on the castle’s opening night, March 2.

Mitchell said the proceeds will help to cover the festival’s expanding costs, such as a newly created executive director post; wages for the construction crew; and housing visiting acts.

Costs like providing stamped architects’ drawings of the new castle design, which can run to thousands of dollars, must also be paid.

“But, as a funding application reviewer disappointingly told us, those are just regular O&M costs,” added Mitchell. “So we can’t, in good conscience, call them crises.”

The festival’s lack of a crisis to beat stands in contrast to the fortunes of the Long John Jamboree, which runs alongside the Snowking Winter Festival for a weekend at a neighbouring site on the bay.

The Jamboree is struggling for cash and volunteers, and will decide in January whether to go ahead with a 2019 event, after high winds wiped out a day of revenues in March this year.