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NNSL photo

Yvon Bernard of the Association Franco-culturelle de Yellowknife doles out maple sugar at the sugar shack, one of the more popular attractions at Caribou Carnival. Children were lined up three deep to twirl up a maple treat. - Chris Woodall/NNSL photo

Caribou Carnival deemed a success

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 31/04) - If the sea of people attending Yellowknife's Caribou Carnival was an indication of the event's success, it was thumbs up all around, said marketing co-ordinator James Pugsley.

"It was a victory. We had at least 10,000 attending all the events," Pugsley said.

"Saturday alone, at least 5,000 people were there."

After last year's discouraging half day spectacle, the onus was on this year's organizers to pull up the carnival's socks and breathe new life into the event, approaching its 50th anniversary.

"All in all, it was a tremendous success," Pugsley said.

Doris Kotchilea, along with baby Cameron, thought so, too.

"There are a lot more people than last year. It's fun."

Carnival goers like Arthur Lafferty of Fort Simpson and Tracy Kovalench of Yellowknife were impressed with the 49th edition of the Carnival.

"I just came back to Yellowknife, so the last one I was at was about 10 years ago -- it's great," Kovalench said.

"There are lots of people, good food ... nice trucks," she laughed, referring to the ugly truck contest.

For Lafferty, the Caribou Carnival experience was his first.

"I like it. It's nice being around lots of people," he said.

Pugsley said a few minor setbacks such as cancelling the paintball activity due to freezing paint and the Wagner Fair truck breakdown did not deter the masses from having fun.

"People had a great time."

Frame Lake was a beehive of activity the entire Caribou Carnival weekend.

Pugsley said with the presence of international media at the event, he hopes its recognition will increase for future years.

"It means the word is out and the event is strong and part of the North," he said.

"The coverage has been a huge stepping stone in increasing the carnival's popularity."

Pugsley said all the events were very popular with the crowd.

"They had a great time at Dog City," he said of the dog/owner participation events.

Another popular area was the drumming/hand games cultural activity, he said.

"That event was culturally one of the biggest steps forward for the carnival."

Pugsley said the amount of money raised at the carnival has yet to be determined. However, the figures will be discussed at the next Caribou Carnival's annual general meeting in several weeks.

"We do know that the Quest for the Crown was the biggest fundraising initiative at $38,000," Pugsley added.

Saturday evening's fireworks display was another crowd-pleaser, he said.

"Everyone was ooohing and ahhhing over the aurora even before the fireworks began. "That was a sign we have a great life up here," he said.

"Even so, it wasn't just a focus on the events, but the community as a whole. Regardless of the cold, we still like to have some fun."

And fun they had.