Just hours after pledging to stay open as long as they could, Snowking’s Winter Festival organizers were forced to admit defeat and close their doors on Tuesday morning.
The closure of the castle, a key Yellowknife tourist attraction, was followed by the NWT Brewing Company announcing its Woodyard pub in the city would close temporarily.
The Woodyard’s owners said they had “made the very difficult decision to close for the rest of the week and will reassess on Monday.”
A statement posted online added: “The safety and mental wellbeing of our staff is at the top of our priorities right now. We believe taking this time off will allow us to regroup and make a game plan for our operation in the coming weeks.”
Earlier, in a video message posted to Facebook, a despondent Snowking said: “Well, I guess it’s official. The federal government’s chief public health officer is requiring everybody to shut down.”
He continued: “We wanted to stay open but we can’t.
“We had a good season. Thanks for being here. Thanks for supporting us. We’ll see you next year.”
A sign newly affixed to the Snowcastle’s front door on Yellowknife Bay read: “We wanted to stay open but we can’t, sorry. Permanently closed.”
The festival was forced last week to cancel evening performances on the advice of the chief public health officer, as they would have involved indoor gatherings of many people in the Snowcastle’s great hall.
However, organizers earlier on Tuesday said they intended to keep the castle open from 12-5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, for as long as they could before medical advice dictated otherwise.
This is the second successive year in which the festival has been badly hit by factors beyond its control.
Last March, extraordinarily warm conditions forced the festival to close a week early as parts of the castle had begun to flood, leaving them unsafe for visitors.
Earlier on Tuesday, organizers had said in a statement that they “respectfully declined” any offers of fundraising on Snowking’s behalf.
“One of the many things we love about this community is how supportive we are to one another when times get hard, but we would rather those efforts be focused elsewhere right now,” a statement read.