Riverside Arts Festival Returns

This summer, the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival (YRAF) returns to Dawson City from June 1–4

The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) has announced the return of the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival (YRAF) for its 23rd consecutive year. This highly anticipated event will take place from June 1–4 in Dawson City and promises to be a vibrant celebration of art and culture in the region.

The festival’s format has fluctuated to adapt to pandemic restrictions, over the last few years, and festival coordinator Maria Sol Suarez Martinez said this year’s preparations felt like they went faster than usual.

“The festival traditionally happened during Disco Days in August,” she said. “There was always so much happening that weekend—there was a ball tournament, a parade, other celebrations … It felt like the festival was an addition to those, rather than its own thing.”

Martinez is happy that the festival does not need to compete with other celebrations and she is excited for a chance to bring people up to Dawson City on a different weekend than the ones they’d typically be up, year by year. This is the Riverside Arts Festival’s second year taking place in early June, and Martinez hopes it will be a permanent shift.

The YRAF is a free, family friendly event that aims to offer something for everyone. Visitors can enjoy the artist market, featuring a diverse range of handmade crafts and artwork, as well as a hands-on demonstration tent where they can try their hand at a variety of artistic techniques. There will also be activities programmed specifically for children, and all youth are invited to participate.

“It’s like we started to slowly trickle things back in,” said Martinez. “For the past three years, everything has been different.”

One component Martinez enthusiastically mentions is a live glass-blowing demonstration from the folks at Lumel Studios.

“It was wonderful to be able to reach out to them,” she said. “They were super into the idea.” Live music will also be a highlight of this year’s festival, with a vast lineup of local and regional musicians performing throughout the weekend. The festival will kick off on Thursday, June 1, with a town-wide, self-directed art crawl. As per KIAC, the Gallery Hop is a vibrant event where

businesses and community spaces transform into art galleries for one night. Visitors can interact with local artists and discover their works across different styles, mediums and techniques.

“Everyone is invited to present a project or showcase their artwork, whether it’s 2D, a performance piece, a curated space or an event,” said Martinez. “The cool thing about it is that people who are established, seasoned artists who have a body of work they would like to showcase or sell, can do so in the context of a venue that will be an art gallery for the night.”

YRAF is made possible through the support of local businesses and community partners, as well as funding from the Yukon government and the Government of Canada. For more information on the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, visit www.kiac.ca.

“It’s very different from last year,” said Martinez. “I imagine next year will be very different as well.”

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