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Old Caribou Carnival memories

Jessica Gray
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 22/06) - The Caribou Carnival is 51 years old this year - an age few annual events in Yellowknife can boast of.

Many in Yellowknife see the carnival as a winter tradition. Most here have fond memories of the event itself.

The carnival will run March 24-26 on the ice of Frame Lake next to City Hall.

"I've always liked the fireworks for the kids and spending time with them when they were younger," said board vice-president Randy Patrick.

"I really like the snow stage, especially when they used to have pillow fight competitions," said volunteer Bob Baird.

But even Bob, a 20-year-carnival veteran, wouldn't recognize the first Caribou Carnival in 1955.

The carnival itself started out as a gathering for Northern trappers.

The men who came would compete against one another in games involving strength. Those who were considered the strongest and most canny would be crowned Bush King.

Yellowknife citizens and visitors can see the evolution of these events - leg and arm wrestling among others - showcased on the snow stage.

Other events carnival goers look forward to are the dog and snowmobile races, the kids tent, bush gear contests, Caribou Capers variety show, the corporate challenge and the Caribou kings and queens parade.

After the Caribou Capers kick off Thursday, March 23, a part of Franklin Street will be closed to host events during the carnival Friday lunch hour.

Caribou Carnival co-ordinator John Dalton has big plans for this year.

"We have canoe races, 12 foot ski races, curling competition, the Caribou Cops, and a petting zoo," said Dalton.

He is hoping to organize a great carnival, but also improve the image of carnival within the community.

But this hasn't been the case every carnival. In past years Caribou Carnival organizers had difficulty finding board members and pulling off events because of a late start for planning.