It’s March, fifty below is history, and the Yukon won’t break for another six weeks. It’s time to get outdoors and enjoy the sun…
Perhaps you have to live through a winter along the Arctic Circle to understand why we are so finely tuned to the stirrings of the seasons here. We may like the dark, cold days of winter, but when they finally lengthen and the temperatures moderate, we are all dying to get outside and enjoy life. Carnival is more than just entertainment; it shuts the door on the harsh winter and heralds the pleasant days of spring. It is a physical and psychological release for the children and adults alike. In a sense, Carnival brings emotional healing, an end to the deprivation of a brutal winter.
Carnival is celebrated by villages all over the Yukon Flats. Each chooses its own time and plans its own activities, but in some ways Carnival is the same everywhere; it is serious fun and it is for everybody. I don’t mean everybody is invited; I mean everybody turns out and gets involved. In Ft. Yukon Carnival begins on a Saturday and continues through the following weekend. School lets out at 1 pm everyday so the children can go to the river to participate in the fun and games. Carnival is so important that families commonly pull their children out of school to visit other villages when their week of celebration begins. Here in our village many of the activities take place on the still frozen sloughs of the Yukon River or along its banks at the Addie Shewfelt building. The evening dances and talent show take place in the tribal council hall, the largest gathering place in the village apart from the gymnasium.
Carnival begins next week and I’ll be posting lots of pictures of all the activities. This is last year’s calendar of fun:
Saturday – Sunday. Basketball Tournament
Monday. Parade, Women’s Dog Race, Kids Running Races, Three-Legged Race, Piggy-Back Race, Baby Contest/Queen Coronation/Dance
Tuesday. Dog Races for 1-7 year olds (really!) and 8-12 year olds, Two Mile Snowshoe Race, Tea Making Contest With Snowshoes, Dance
Wednesday. Six Dog Race for 13-17 Years Old, Bubble Gum Chewing, Gunny Sack Race, Outhouse Race, Dance
Thursday. Men’s Dog Race, Juice Pop and Candy Scramble, Sled Pushing Contest, Money Scramble, Talent Show
Friday. Men’s Dog Race II, Chili Cookoff, Egg Toss, Nail Driving Contest, Wood Splitting Contest, Banquet/Awards, Dance and Jig Contest
Saturday. More Dancing! Oh, and maybe a wee drop o’ the creature…