A few weeks before the 2011 Dawson Fur Show, coordinator Miranda Meade isn’t quite sure how many people she can expect to show up for the bi-annual event.
That’s understandable. Trappers are a little hard to get hold of during trapping season and the organizing body, the Dawson District Renewable Resource Council (DDRRC), can never be quite certain about attendance until perhaps a week before the event itself.
In 2009 this posed more of a problem. That year the show was still being held in January and temperatures in the -50 to -55C range cut the number of trappers in attendance just about in half.
At the time the late Jack Fraser, always a stalwart supporter of this event, opined that anyone out in the bush in that weather had all they could do to maintain themselves and mind their traps. A side trip to Dawson for the fur show would have been out of the question.
Holding the show two months later – on Saturday, March 19 – should cut down on weather issues.
“We have seen quite a bit of interest in the community and surrounding communities,” Meade said in late February, but she couldn’t make any firm predictions about numbers.
“We normally don’t have a full idea about how many are going to show up until the day of the event.”
The typical number is around 13, based on shows in 2007 and 2005.
The key event is the Fur Show itself, consisting of displays of many different types of fur spread out on tables all over the big auditorium at the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Community Centre. Furs can be submitted from the current season or earlier seasons, the only restriction being that they must not have been in the competition for judging in previous shows.
There is a trap-setting contest, during which teams will demonstrate their ability to set different kinds of traps. This is a competition, but is also intended to be educational.
There will be entertainment and food available on-site and trapping-related videos will be shown throughout the day.
One highlight is always the fashion show, in which community volunteers model the designs of fur and leather designers. There are entries from locals as well as from out-of-towners. This event is a crowd pleaser as the models stride up and down the improvised catwalk and the cameras flash.
Meade says that a good number of people have already volunteered to model in the show.
Local designers will exhibit their fur and leather creations, with tables of goods on display in addition to the larger items in the fashion show.
Rosemarie Gassner says she is happy about the change of date, since she had sold off just about everything she had already prepared during the pre-Christmas bazaars and needed time to make new items.
Gassner has been designing extreme weather gear since she moved here in 2005 and discovered there wasn’t a lot on the market. She started with mitts and has since added headgear to her line.
“For this show I’ve made samples of all the different designs that I make. People can place orders from those designs.”
She will have actual items on her table, as well as photographs to show off her work.
On the more active side there will also be a jigging contest, featuring traditional dancing with an emphasis on youth.
The DDRRC sees the show as serving a number of functions, according to Meade.
“It is a way to bring forth the importance trapping has in Yukon communities, culturally and industrially. The Fur Show brings together trappers from different communities all around the Yukon, allowing them to showcase their furs, gain recognition for their efforts before the furs are sold at auction, as well as to provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the trapping industry and just why it is enjoyed so much.”
Within the context of a community event, trappers and designers share their skills, knowledge and experience with the wider community, develop relationships between the fur industry and others, and provide an event that attracts visitors to the town.