Yellowknifers flaunt their skivvies at first annual Long John Jamboree

Click on the slideshow above to view captions.Photo: Kyle Thomas.

The noble long john took centre stage at last weekend’s first annual Long John Jamboree, a weekend-long winter festival replacing the long-running Caribou Carnival.

The festival attracted more than 2,500 people to participate in the ice sculpture carving competition, run races, sample local treats and strip down to their long underwear.

Months of planning led to a successful – and very busy – weekend. According to Adrian Bell, president of the Long John Jamboree, the initiative went spectacularly well, with the only problem being parking.

“It was extremely busy. The only real problems we had related to capacity. We just didn’t expect that many vehicles to show up, so parking took up a lot more of our volunteer energy than we expected,” he said.

Too many people is a good problem to have, and although volunteers and board members didn’t get a chance to take in as much of the event as they would have liked because of over-capacity, it just means they’ll have to plan ahead for larger numbers next year. Bell said he would have been happy if 1,000 people had shown up to enjoy the event, but there was more than twice that number.

Hosted on the ice of Great Slave Lake between the government dock and the Snow King Castle, the Long John Jamboree featured the long john fashion show ‘Flaunt Yer Skivvies,’ the Terriers and Tiaras dog fashion show, helicopter rides by Matrix Helicopter Solutions, the De Beers Inspired Ice competition, dog sled races, a skijoring race sponsored by the SPCA, games, music, local art, the Snow King hockey tournament and the Abominable Snow Race (complete with Abominable Snowman).

“It was completely off the wall and kind of fit the spirit of what we were trying to do. We were celebrating our Northern toughness and resiliency, and the long john is one of the things that gets us through the winter,” Bell said.

Although the weekend kept board members busy, there’s no rest for the crew responsible for the wacky festival. Bell said the board will soon meet for a debriefing and to begin discussing the 2013 event. Bell’s early expectations are that the next festival will be bigger and better, and he’d like to see it expand beyond Yellowknife Bay into Old Town and beyond. The festival will remain a three-day event, although Bell hinted there could be some early events on the Thursday night next year.

“There’s certainly potential to expand it in the future,” he said.

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