Look around. The birds are singing, canoes and kayaks are back on Subaru roof racks and my neighbour seems to have an urge for gardening at 11:30 p.m. These are signs of summer.
It’s a change from spending much of our time inside, sipping hot tea and feeding the woodstove to living the wild and hectic life of a Yukon summer. Drinking gallons of beer and sharing our nights with mosquitos and bears.
Then comes the summer festival season and the hitchhikers. Thumbs up on top of Two Mile Hill hoping for a ride to Atlin or Dawson. A definite kick-start to this electric season is the Solstice Saint-Jean.
Thanks to the Association Franco-Yukonnaise, the francophone summer festival is back this year with various music concerts for the young and not so young folks. No hitchhiking needed here, just a bike. The Solstice St-Jean is the main francophone cultural event of the summer. It blends a celebration of the longest day of the year, with La St-Jean-Baptiste, a day of celebration for French-Canadians. The result is a truly northern summer festivity with a strong taste of francophone culture.
A night of music will take place on Friday, June 24 at the Robert Service Campground in Whitehorse and at the Westminster Hotel in Dawson City. Local talent as well as visiting francophone musicians will be performing during the night.
In Whitehorse, the festivities will start at 5 p.m. with a kids’ concert and dinner sponsored by Les EssentiElles, the Francophone women’s group.
The night will then open with jazz notes from Les Oignons Rouges at 7:30 p.m. Consisting of four local musicians – Olivier de Colombel, Brigitte Desjardins, Grant Simpson and Ryan McNally – they will entertain the audience with warm Dixieland music.
Nadine Landry and Sammy Lind will also make their way to the stage at 8:30 p.m. performing Cajun and country songs followed at 9:30 p.m. by Allo Gang, an indie folk band.
By then, if you had not yet feel the urge to move your body in a dance-like fashion be prepared for an energy boost with Les Hotesses d’Hilaire, the last event of the night. From Moncton, New Brunswick, bandmates Serge Brideau, Mico Roy, Michel Vienneau, Léandre Bourgeois and Maxence Cormier will perform their colourful, zany rock songs until midnight.
Alcohol beverages will be available to purchase on site. Be sure to bring your own lawn chair if you wish to sit down and relax.
Also on June 24, Quebec musician Gabriel Guimond will perform a kids’ concert in partnership with local daycares in Dawson City. The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at the Front street gazebo.
Later that evening, Guimond will hit the stage at The Pit in the the Westminster Hotel starting at 10 p.m., performing well-known songs from Quebec and French-Canadian repertoires.
For more information about the Solstice St-Jean please go to www.afy.yk.ca