Organizers of Yellowknife’s Long John Jamboree say the event will not go ahead this year and there are plans to put the festival into “hibernation” for the foreseeable future.
Chris Coomber, current president of the jamboree, told reporters on Monday that, with just three board members who also have family and work obligations, they aren’t able to keep the festival going.
“All of us have expressed that we don’t really have the time or the energy to put into it to actually produce the festival that we believe Yellowknife deserves,” he said.
What will happen to the jamboree beyond this year is “in limbo,” Coomber said, but board members are looking at options that won’t shut the door to future events being held under the same name and organization.
He said it doesn’t make sense to dissolve the festival completely as it has assets like signage, ice carving tools, and games, along with a “production bible.”
“The jamboree isn’t going away permanently, it’s just being put to bed for a bit,” he said.
“Our hope is that at some point within the next few years, or somewhere down the line, we can get a group of people who are interested and have the energy to build up the jamboree again.”
Covid-19 restrictions have made it more challenging to organize the jamboree, Coomber said, but even before the pandemic it was difficult to find and retain dedicated board members. He added the jamboree usually needs around 400 volunteers each year.
“It really takes a community to put on a festival for the community.”
The previous year, in 2019, the festival was relocated to the parking lot of the city’s fieldhouse following warmer than normal temperatures. In 2018, the jamboree lost nearly a day of events due to high winds.
The Long John Jamboree is normally a three-day festival held on Yellowknife Bay each March with events like an ice-carving championship, live music, and vendors. It was founded in 2012 by a group of volunteers, and carried on the tradition of Yellowknife’s former long-running Caribou Carnival.