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Long John Jamboree abandons the ice, moves on land

Long John Jamboree merchandise on sale at an event in the build-up to the 2019 festival
Long John Jamboree merchandise on sale at an event in the build-up to the 2019 festival.

The Long John Jamboree is the second Yellowknife festival to face major disruption this month as organizers announced it will move to dry land.

Ordinarily held on the frozen Yellowknife Bay, the Jamboree will instead take place in the parking lot of the city’s fieldhouse.

Organizers said the change resulted from the same abnormal March weather conditions responsible for the premature closure of Snowking’s Winter Festival at the weekend.

“While we will not be able to enjoy the aesthetic and emotion that being on the lake provides, the pioneering attitude of being a ‘true northerner’ means that we must adapt to the conditions presented to us,” read a news release from Long John Jamboree organizers on Monday.



“Mother Nature has presented us with a second year of challenging weather and we won’t let her get us down.”

The Snowking’s Snowcastle was shuttered on Saturday night, a week earlier than planned, because days of extraordinary heat followed by a flood of meltwater had left the venue unsafe for visitors.

Parts of the Northwest Territories reached 20C in March for the first time in recorded history last week. Yellowknife reached highs approaching 10C, far above temperature norms for the city at this time of year.

Snowking’s Winter Festival signed off for the year – closing early for the first time in its 24-year history – by declaring “climate change is real” in a Facebook post on Sunday.



The Jamboree’s subsequent move to the fieldhouse parking lot, which Cabin Radio understands is also without precedent, comes at an extremely sensitive time for the event’s finances.

Last year, the festival lost one of its three days to high winds – a weather event organizers later said cost them $20,000.

The loss of that day nearly saw the festival scrapped altogether in 2019. Only in late January this year did the Jamboree’s volunteer team decide they had the funding to go ahead.

An accompanying ice carving contest featuring seven teams from across North America remains scheduled for this coming weekend.

“We will still have a full slate of events and activities that the entire family can enjoy,” said Jamboree organizers.

“From ice carving and musicians to wonderful local artists and awesome food, there will be something for everybody to enjoy and participate in.

“As a bonus, the fieldhouse is extremely accessible to everyone as there is safe parking and the majority of the site will be free of ice, making it much easier for everyone to walk on.

“We certainly hope to see more happy, smiling faces there next weekend, enjoying the warmer weather and participating in our event.”