Jamboree set for weekend
Games, races and spring fun mark Muskrat Jamboree

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Mar 26/99) - Inuvik's annual spring festival, the Muskrat Jamboree, is set to start tomorrow night at the Midnight Sun Arena with opening ceremonies, a feast and an old-time dance.

Dog races get under way at noon on Saturday (as well as at various times throughout the weekend) along with popular games and fun competitions in traditional events such as log sawing, nail driving and the toboggan pull.

Ski-Doo races on the ice road are set for Monday so the road will be closed to vehicle traffic for safety reasons, according to organizer Gerry Kisoun.

"The dog trail goes down river from here about five miles out to Navy Creek," Kisoun says.

"We've been using that site for the past five years so all the dog mushers who have participated in the Muskrat Jamboree the last few years know the trail very well."

Contestants in 10 different traditional competitions, such as log sawing and muskrat skinning, could win the crown as the festival's king or queen.

Entrants will be ranked in a point system where the first six finishers in each event will receive the reverse amount of points. For example, the winner will get six points while the person placing second will get five points.

The first prize is a trip to Edmonton for both the king and queen while second prize is a trip to Yellowknife and third is a trip to Whitehorse.

Last year, Melba Mitchell won the title of festival queen while Eddie Greenland and Jeffery Amos tied for festival king.

"Traditionally, everybody used to always meld together and travel to each community for the jamboree," says king and queen contest organizer Donna Allen.

"That's what the Muskrat Jamboree used to mean to people in the Delta -- gathering together and having a cup of tea. Everybody meeting and greeting each other after a large winter haul."

People still gather from surrounding communities at Inuvik's festival, similar to Tsiigehtchic's festival last weekend and Aklavik's festival in early April.

And dog mushers from the south often make the trip to compete in those events.

"I think every community needs something that gets everybody together -- aboriginal and non-aboriginal -- and shares culture with people joining around for the same celebration," says economic development officer Dennis Zimmerman.

Aside from the king and queen contest, Kisoun says there will be some money prizes and for muskrat skinning. The fastest woman will get an ulu knife and the fastest man will get an engraved knife.

Several events for kids will take place at SAM school March 27 at noon and there will be some new events such as snow sculpting. At 7 p.m. on March 27 there will be a bingo at the Midnight Sun Arena followed by a second old-time dance.

March 28 will start with a pancake breakfast at Ingamo Hall hosted by the Ride for Sight biker group and at noon the David Kasook memorial muskrat skinning contest will be held along with events such as the harpoon throw and the tea boiling contest.