Long John Jamboree organizers defend smashing ice carvings

A Yellowknife resident takes a sledgehammer to an ice carving on the site of the 2018 Long John Jamboree
A Yellowknife resident takes a sledgehammer to an ice carving on the site of the 2018 Long John Jamboree. Jesse Wheeler/Cabin Radio

Organizers of Yellowknife’s Long John Jamboree say they were obliged to destroy ice carvings created during last week’s festival, amid complaints online.

Footage taken on Tuesday shows local residents taking sledgehammers to the carvings, created for the Inspired Ice contest by carvers who travelled to Yellowknife from around the world.

The Jamboree held a raffle in which residents paid $5 for the chance to be drawn to take down an ice carving. Successful entrants can be seen smashing the carvings to pieces on Yellowknife Bay.

“F***ing disgrace,” wrote ice carver Jeff Kaiser, who did not take part in Inspired Ice, beneath the footage. “This is a really shitty way to end the event.”



Miguel Ringoet, a Belgian carver who did attend this year’s Inspired Ice – placing 10th – wrote he was “shocked and disappointed.”

‘No disrespect’

Some Yellowknife residents expressed sorrow that the carvings had not been allowed to stand, and be appreciated, for longer, or simply allowed to melt naturally.

But organizers said restrictions in place make that impossible.

“Unfortunately, our insurance policy doesn’t allow us to leave [the carvings] up without protection and on-site security,” the Jamboree’s official Facebook page posted in response to a commenter who said “smashing them to pieces just days after the Jamboree is horrible.”



Jamboree organizers added: “As they melt, the pieces can fall unpredictably, and create very dangerous situations. If somebody was in the wrong place at the wrong time, they could get seriously injured, which is the last thing we want.

“It makes us sad to bring them down, but we certainly don’t want anybody getting hurt.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to maintain on-site security for longer than necessary so they are by nature temporary. The artists are aware (and frequently want to crash their own!), so you can rest assured that there’s no disrespect, it’s just a different approach to art than most that we see.”

Who wants lawsuits?

Terry Pamplin, a Yellowknife artist who stepped in to help an American ice carver whose partner could not travel to this year’s event, said the festival’s approach made sense.

“A professional carver with years of experience while posing beside his piece was almost crushed about 30 minutes after the judging due to a fault in the piece,” said Pamplin. “So, who really wants to have lawsuits for humans who should have known better in the first place, much as I would love to watch them all sublimate back into the lake?

“I do believe this works, and the festival is able to raise a few bucks auctioning off the dismantling, and you all had three whole days and nights to come and see them.”

Cabin Radio understands the carvings are usually disposed of in similar fashion after each year’s festival.

However, this is the first in which a fundraiser has been held offering residents the chance to wield the sledgehammers in place of festival staff.