Thaw Di Gras, Dawson’s annual spring carnival weekend, kicks off on March 14.
The mostly family oriented weekend event is a lot of fun for locals – and draws in visitors, too. It includes a lip sync event for youth and another for adults, cat and dog shows, snowshoe baseball, road hockey, a dog sled race, snow sculptures, a chili cook-off, an axe throw, log toss, log saw, and an egg toss.
One month ago, Raul Robitaille and Justine Hobbs hosted a planning luncheon on behalf of the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA), which organizes the event. They were pleased 20 people turned out for the noon-hour brainstorming session, during which they presented a list of nearly three dozen events that might fill the calendar between Friday and Sunday evenings.
“It’s always great to get some input on a great community event,” says Robitaille. “Because I think Thaw di Gras/Spring Carnival is the very definition of a community event.
“There are so many volunteers that put on so many small events… that it’s good to get some feedback.”
The KVA has noted that a lot of ex-Dawsonites come up for the weekend, many of them from Whitehorse. There’s a bit of nostalgia involved, and a feeling of participating in a little event that isn’t quite so hectic as the Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse.
“It’s a great event and it’s pedestrian-friendly and you can participate in almost every event,” he says. “It’s very cheap – pretty much everything is free – and it’s fun.”
Presently, Thaw di Gras draws approximately 50 people to town, and the KVA would be happy if that doubled.
“This is one of KVA’s events that has the most tourism potential,” said Robitaille. “Especially at that time in winter where a lot of businesses want it. It does, like Trek Over the Top, bring in people who are willing to spend money, rent hotel rooms and support a small town economy.”
Some years, the Fur Show happens at the same time, but this year the big Saturday evening draw is expected to be the monthly coffee house at the Odd Fellows Hall, which will be a little different this year because two local artists, Noosa Al-Sarraj and Holly Haustein, will be launching CDs.
Events are held all over town, with all the bars participating with live entertainment or games like arm wrestling and the tricycle race.
When it’s dark enough, there will be fireworks on Saturday night.
Snow sculpture activity will be moving to Front Street this year, with warm up facilities in the picnic/art market shelter there.
The Association franco-yukonnaise will be joining in the fun by providing a Sugar Shack.
Some version of the The Price is Right game show is being planned, though it might not be called that.
And the younger kids will have a ball again this year diving for loonies in a hay pile at the Gertie’s parking lot.
It’s a lot of fun for the town, which is beginning to see the light at the end of the long winter tunnel.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.