Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous 2015

It's a rollicking good time in the land of the midnight sun
  • Jan 31, 2015
  • 301 words
  • 2 minutes
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In the frigid Far North, people have little choice but to adapt to whatever fortune sends their way. They are made of stern stuff—they work hard, but they play hard too. That is never in better evidence than in Whitehorse, Yukon, from Feb. 18–22, when the locals gear up for the 2015 edition of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, a five-day event that kicks off on February 18.

What, exactly, is a sourdough? Originally, the term referred to the stash of bread starter made with flour, water and yeast that early prospectors kept with them at all times. Today, a sourdough refers to a Yukoner who has seen the river freeze in the fall and stayed around for spring breakup—someone who is in it for the long haul. The denizens of Whitehorse could ask for no better characterization.

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Launched in 1945 as Yukon Carnival Week and “an elaborate program of winter sports … and nightly entertainment,” the Sourdough Rendezvous holds its roots close, especially the “rollicking good time” part. Every good festival needs to warm up the crowd, and this one is no exception. Pub crawls, cross-dressing fashion shows and kobasa-eating contests lead up to the big launch on February 18, when international ice-carving teams get down to work. Hair-freezing contests? Yes. Also dog sledding, chainsaw chucking, log tossing, Cancan dancing, flour-sack packing, snowshoe shuffling, arm wrestling, fireworks and a special appearance from one of Canada’s best-loved children’s performers, Fred Penner.

For visitors and newcomers, the celebration may have the atmosphere of a good-natured hazing, but for the hardy citizens who make up Whitehorse’s come-from-away population, it’s a chance to meet up with old friends and have, well, a rollicking good time.

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