This August, Dawson City celebrates one of its last summer events. From August 14 to 17, Discovery Days, the Riverside Arts Festival, and the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Symposium aim to keep people of all ages and tastes busy and entertained.
“This weekend is an iconic celebration of what’s great in Dawson,” says Paul Robitaille, marketing & events manager at the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA).
“It’s a celebration of history and showcases what Dawson was and is today.“
Robitaille says the celebration is popular with both locals and visitors.
“I’ve already had lots of calls. All signs point to another great and busy weekend.”
On Thursday afternoon, as a kick-off to the celebrations, the KVA will be offering the Authors on Eighth literary walking tour.
“This event showcases the literary history of Dawson and Eighth Avenue,” says Robitaille.
The tour gives book lovers a chance to learn about some of Dawson’s great authors: Jack London, Dick North, Robert Service, and Pierre Berton. The walk stops at the former homes of London, Service, and Berton on Eighth Avenue. There will be an interpretive talk at each location.
On Friday and throughout the weekend, baseball lovers can catch the Discovery Days Fastball Tournament. Feel like some fun and games? The Danoja Zho Cultural Centre will be holding Indian Bingo on Friday afternoon, open to all. That evening, the Klondike Placer Miners Association will be whooping it up with their popular barbeque and dance, also open to the public.
On Saturday morning, the Dawson Curling Club will be cooking up a storm of pancakes at their annual breakfast fundraiser. If you love plants, a horticultural exhibition featuring some of Yukon’s best flowers and produce, will be held later that morning.
And what is a festive weekend without a parade?
Starting at noon, floats, fire trucks, and kids on bikes will wind their way through town to end at the Dawson City Museum, where prizes will be handed out.
Sunday starts off with more pancakes, and then continues with the ever-popular Klondike Valley Mud Bog.
“Life winds you up,” says Rea Tyerman, co-organizer. “The mud bog allows people to have fun, enjoy and play in the mud. It’s a stress relief.”
The competition takes place in a pit full of mud in the north end of town.
When asked how deep the mud is, Tyerman smirks: “Deep enough.”
“We have to haul people out with a skidder on a regular basis,” she says with a laugh.
“If you make it easy, it takes all the fun out of it.”
Also from August 14 to 17, the 14th annual Riverside Arts Festival will encourage people to interact directly with the arts and explore their creativity. There will be exhibitions, workshops, lectures, public art, live music, an art market, and more.
Matt Sarty, presentation & events coordinator for the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC), and the producer of the festival, says it should appeal to everyone who has an interest in art.
“They’ll definitely find something,” he says. “This festival is for all ages and tastes – it’s meant to be as accessible as possible. It’s mostly free and the format is wide open. You can experience as much or as little as you want in a wide variety of mediums in both traditional and modern ways.”
The festival kicks off on Thursday with a gallery hop; the public can view a variety of art exhibitions, installations, performances, artist talks, and special projects in traditional and non-traditional gallery spaces around town.
Throughout the weekend, live musical performances on the riverfront will feature plenty of local talent as well as a circus duo all the way from Argentina.
The demonstration tent, also located on the riverfront, will offer informal sessions that allow participants to learn tips and tricks of the trade, and work on their own projects with participating artists’ guidance.
The Danoja Zho Cultural Centre will feature contemporary dance by First Nations dancer Michelle Olson. Saturday night will see the Palace Grand Theatre hosting Bryan Webb, formerly of the Constantines, as well as Yukon band Sauna Music, for an evening of musical entertainment.
There will also be a variety of activities for kids.
The third edition of the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Symposium rounds out the weekend.
Presented by the Dawson City Community Library, KIAC, and Parks Canada, there will be workshops, demonstrations, open studios, artist talks, discussions, and ongoing publication projects with local and visiting artists from across Canada, celebrating Dawson City’s heritage as a literary and artistic centre.
Wrap it all up on Sunday night at the ODD Gallery’s closing party featuring live music, installations, projections, and more, and you’ll have enough to keep you going until next summer.
For more information on Discovery Days, please visit www.dawsoncity.ca. For more information on the Riverside Arts Festival, www.kiac.ca/artsfestival. For more information on the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Symposium, visit www.kiac.ca/artsfestival/printsymposium.