Dawson Music Festival (DCMF) is billed as a music event, but there happens to be a lot of beer action in the midst of it.
My friend Lee, who didn’t have the foresight to purchase music tickets beforehand, kept calling it Dawson beerfest from his vantage point in the beer gardens. And arguably, beer does play a central role.
At any given time during the weekend there might be just as many people under the big tent listening to tunes as there are corralled into the highly social beer garden.
Yukon Brewing and Big Rock Brewery were the beer sponsors. Even the gluten-intolerant among us could “boozialize” in the “quarantine zone” with a Rock Creek cider by Big Rock.
If you drink Growers cider, do yourself a favour and pick up a pack of this dry cider. It is the real deal, with a burst of tart apple aroma and flavour that even a beer snob can appreciate.
There is a good physical separation of music and drinking at the DCMF, which allows one to work off the caloric and inebriating effects of beer over and over again.
Friday night headliner Larry and His Flask whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their manic gypsy folk punk and wildman stand-up bass player who had his instrument airborne more often than you would expect for a 40-pound mass of wood and metal.
The Flask played great music, but after being spatulaed into the fence in front of the stage repeatedly by the crowd-surfing jumble and whipped in the face by flailing sweaty man arms, I finally called it an evening.
Besides, the beer tent was already closed.
Saturday was something called the Dome Race, which, sadly, I have never managed to be in any sort of shape to participate in.
I don’t think there is usually beer involved in the actual running, but I suspect that after the initial trauma of lurching your body skyward, it helps speed the recovery from the previous night’s internal beer shower.
In some ways, it reminds me of the Hash House Harriers, a running club started by expats in what is now Malaysia in 1938.
The idea is that you run to work off the excesses of the weekend… just enough to start believing that beer is your friend again. (Check out Whitehorse’s Hash House Harriers club for more info.)
I got the knock at the door Saturday morning from Lee to slip into sneakers for the Dome Run, but somehow my 60 percent certainty of running while at the beer tent on Friday night had plummeted overnight.
Sunday managed to be the neutralizer. A leisurely morning was followed by an excellent show at the Palace Grand by Old Time Machine.
Who knew you could split up a drum kit between two people, throw in some Thom Yorke-type wailings, chalky blues and some jangle and thud to come up with such a compelling sound?
The concert was closely followed by a hike up the scar of Dawson—the Moosehide Slide—where I got to collect cool pieces of serpentinite and undo some of the excesses of the previous night.
As with any beer/music event, the local police were on low-tolerance setting… understandably. Regular townfolk get a little concerned when a bunch of yahoos infiltrate and turn the clock back 100 years.
Carry an unopened beer in your pocket down the block to the next house party and the cops will make you pour every lick of sweet beer nectar into the ditch… even if it is New Grist Sorghum Ale… and you have a medical condition (celiac)… and you were excruciatingly polite.
You’re just not going to win that argument.
The best beer I tasted all weekend was a pint of Yukon Brewing’s Ice Fog when I had the presence of mind to walk away from the blackjack table at Gerties… $25 in the black.
All in all, it was a good weekend: mud-wrestling in the beer garden (not me, I swear), random RV park jams complete with a roving snare drum, warm air, fine beer, happy people.
I’d say the town of Dawson City lived up to its reputation as a place with a spirit that keeps on giving.