Yellowknife’s oldest neighbourhood will find itself a little quieter than usual this summer with the Old Town Ramble and Ride festival being moved online.
The festival, which usually fills Old Town with musicians, stalls, and experiences for a long weekend in August, is changing gears due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three-day street festival will now be spread over the course of 24 days from July 10 to August 2.
Many of the same attractions will still be featured and the festival’s focus will remain the same, organizers said, concentrating on music, art, culture, storytelling, film, and dance.
“It’s about keeping that energy going and supporting the local arts and performers,” said Emily Smits, the festival coordinator.
Pre-recorded workshops and webinars will be broadcast to allow participants to test their art skills with tutorials and learn from local professionals.
However, the art and food market won’t be able to take place and the bike rally is cancelled this year.
Smits hopes people will take a chance on the online festival, which will see online attractions slowly released over the 24-day period – available for access at any time.
“It can act as a little bit of a time capsule for people to be able to watch and kind-of look back on,” she said.
What to expect
New to the festival is a five-episode podcast series that encompasses the essence of Old Town. The show is produced and hosted by Jenna Graham and released every Friday throughout the festival.
On Saturdays, there will be longer sets from musicians. Throughout the week, workshops, storytelling, dancing, and cultural activities will take place.
Some festival classics will still be accessible this year. The “trashformation” competition, where participants turn trash into works of art, will happen virtually with entrants posting photos of their final product online.
The “Passport to Old Town” will also be returning, with a twist. Instead of collecting stamps from local businesses, people will have to submit answers to trivia questions.
Smits says the one component organizers cannot recreate online is the buzz that accompanies being outside, looking at art, and hearing live music.
“People get a lot of joy coming together as a community and being with each other and seeing all the people on the street,” she said. “I know a lot of people are going to miss that.”
She is, however, excited that people who would normally come from out of town will still have access to the festival.
“Despite the circumstances we don’t have control over, we can still find ways to engage with each other and build community,” she said.
“Even though it’s not ideal, this is still a way we can be a community together, even though we’re not together.”
The full schedule will be released on Old Town Ramble and Ride’s website on Friday July 10, the first full day of the festival.