Celebrate the great outdoors!

Yes, keep growing the beard and your leg hair, and dig out your garters and feathers—the Yukon Rendezvous Festival returns! The 58th annual event takes place in Whitehorse from Feb. 11 to 27. The storied festival, founded in 1964, has planned four possible versions of the festival this year, to quickly adapt to changing health regulations. Fittingly, the theme this year is The Great Outdoors. 

Rendezvous plans a robust schedule of events and contests, including familiar favourites such as Pet Parade, Snow Carving, the mobile Can-Can line, Style and Strength contests, the Wrap-up Parade, Sourdough Sam show and the Fiddle Show.  

Your dog will be happy to hear there will be no fireworks this year. Midnight Sun Fireworks Producers have released a statement saying, in part, “we’d like to thank Yukoners for all the support over the years, as well as our crew, whose countless hours of volunteer work have made it possible for us to create award- quality shows.” The one-hundred per cent volunteer fireworks specialists “look forward to providing you with the best pyro-musical in the Yukon yet in 2023.”  

There are lots of ways to get involved in Rendezvous this year and win cash prizes too! Trot out your trashy side with the Upcycle Fashion Challenge, where folks are invited to transform household waste and reusable treasures into upcycled high-fashion designs. Finished products will be published online, voted upon by the public and potentially shown live to a panel of judges on the Main Stage.  

 The list goes on! More entertainment and divertissements include The Love of Drag III, Performance Stage, Snowpad, KIDSFEST and the Rendezvous Raffle, with over $20,900 in prizes. Tuck Entertainment is returning with an extravagant drag show featuring a very special guest, Kendall Gender. New to Rendezvous this year is Abondance: A Burlesque Extravaganza, to be hosted at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and/or online.  

Also new to the festival this year, is executive director to the Rendezvous Society, Devin Knopf.  Knopf is working with direction from the Rendezvous volunteer board of directors for this year’s festival and is already setting the stage for the 60th anniversary edition in 2024. 

“I am excited to be joining the Rendezvous team to help execute this truly iconic Yukon event,” says Knopf adding he loves the passion that everyone in the community has about the festival, coming from the rich history Rendezvous has in Whitehorse and the Yukon. “All in all, my favourite part is the community.” 

 Regarding taking on this role, Knopf says it’s an honour. “I do not take this opportunity lightly. The Yukon can rest assured this is not my event to take and run with—Rendezvous is run by its board of directors and volunteers, and I am just here to help execute a great event for everyone who comes out.” 

A participant competes in the axe throwing competition at the 2021 festival

He added, “It has been great and a lot of fun! Getting to work with many of our fantastic sponsors, dedicated board of directors and staff to bring their vision of the festival to life has been an honour.” Unfortunately, this year won’t return to the full-blown Rendezvous of old, but he is hopeful it can be ramped up in the future, especially for the 60th anniversary festival.

 As for the current situation, the Rendezvous team states that they cannot predict exactly how COVID will impact venue capacity. According to the official website, Rendezvous will be enacting a policy for this Festival that will give the earliest in-person ticket purchasers seating priority in the cases of reduced capacity. For now though, tickets are for sale based on 50 per cent occupancy at all the venues.

 Knopf advises that festival-goers prepare for the unknown. “In all seriousness, the COVID situation is changing very quickly,” he says. “Especially with the new variants. That means we really don’t know what our regulatory situation will be like for the last half of February.”

 Whatever happens, Rendezvous will be ready! 

“Currently we have at least four different Rendezvous planned depending on the regulations we might be in come festival time,” says Knopf. “Keep up to date on the most recent festival plans and a watchful eye on our website (www.yukonrendezvous.com), or follow us on our various social media platforms.”

Festival-goers are advised to book early and prepare their proof-of-vaccination QR code on paper or electronic device. Rendezvous planners advise that live shows are already planned to run at a limited capacity and should the situation require a further reduction in seat count, first sold tickets will have priority and oversold tickets will be refunded. All Yukon Rendezvous 2022 shows will require proof of vaccination to enter and masks must be worn by all guests. 

Knopf seems to take the stresses of co-planning a big festival during a global pandemic in stride. “I send my personal gratitude to all levels of government working with us on the event,” he says. “It’s great to see all the many volunteers that want to help out and the dedicated volunteer board of directors who pull off the festival every year with the help of government and corporate community support and sponsorship.”

 To check out all the mid-winter entertainments and distractions Rendezvous offers, visit the festival’s website at: www.yukonrendezvous.com.  

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