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A time to celebrate

By Amy Kenny

If you’re looking to feed both body and soul, Street Eats and Beats might satisfy the craving. 

The City of Whitehorse festival, taking place from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11, has partnered with the Yukon Arts Centre this year to expand its offerings beyond food and include a side of live entertainment.  

“Our community has not been able to come together and be able to celebrate with music in a very long time,” says Michele Emslie, director of programming at YAC. In her opinion, music provides the perfect complement to a shared feast. “When you’re eating, you actually respond to the world differently and you hear things differently.” 

According to Luke Pantin, economic development coordinator with the City of Whitehorse, doing things differently this year was part of the plan for very specific reasons.  

“It’s been a pretty tough year for the world,” says Pantin. “Very limited outdoor activity, very limited entertainment.”

He says global examples of collaboration between diverse organizations, facing the same hardships, have given everyone a leg up. That’s what the city wanted to do when it collaborated with YAC – to give everyone a boost, not just economically, but socially, and in terms of education and learning opportunities for citizens. 

“These partnerships yield increased benefits, because we have complimentary chemistry, skills, knowledge and assets. So we build greater value for those that we’re serving, which, in this case, is the community of Whitehorse and surrounding neighbourhoods.”

It also allows organizers to use those neighbourhoods (in this case, downtown) in new ways. 

“The big thing about this festival is that it’s going to activate, for us, exciting spaces,” says Pantin. 

Throughout the streets, food vendors (Smoke and Sow, Kit’s Kitchen, Daddy’s Donuts and Yukon Chocolate, to name a few) will be slinging snacks from 3 pm to 7 pm on Sept. 9 and then from noon to 8 pm on Sept. 10 and noon to 9 pm on the Saturday. 

Beyond that, Shipyards Park will host mainstage acts, including Gordie Tentrees and Claire Ness, as well as more emerging artists like Victoria Parker or the Vanstones – an alternative folk band comprised of Amanda Fata, Sarah Murphy and Nathan Schultz.

At the Visitor Information Centre, a kids festival will play out with performances from Lianne Cranfield and the Tiny Islands Brass Band, while hands-on workshops include arts and crafts drop-ins, and a boat decorating activity with Parks Canada. 

There are additional performances and workshops (including a drumstick-making workshop with Dennis Shorty) at the Wharf, north of White Pass Train Station, and even more pop-up venues as you continue north on the Waterfront Trail.

These include a BBQ Tent by Earls Restaurant, an interpretive performance near Kanoe People about the history of the Whitehorse waterfront, and Yukon Film Society’s “drive-in” movie Friday and Saturday nights on the wall of the library. Behind the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre is a market, where you can purchase arts and crafts, and see demonstrations such as Patrick Royle practicing Raku firing.

“We’ll hopefully be expressing the meanings that places have here in Whitehorse and in the Yukon, for the people who live here,” says Pantin. “And kind of creating these different ways of belonging in the city and region, both within the past and in imagining what the future is going to be like, as we move forward with this festival over the years to come.”

Click here for full schedule.