Northern News Services
Friday, May 25, 2007
YELLOWKNIFE - There will be no Raven Mad Daze on Franklin Avenue this year.
After more than 30 years as the main event on Franklin Avenue, organizer Lisa Tesar says Raven Mad will now merge with the Summer Solstice Festival, which will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, and on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, from noon to 8 p.m. The events take place at Somba K'e Park and the City Hall parking lot.
"We are working to have in place a Solstice Festival marketplace. In this we shall invite all vendors who have typically participated on 50th Avenue during Raven Mad Daze," Tesar said in an e-mail to Yellowknifer, Wednesday.
She said many previously participating retail stores for Raven Mad, including merchants from Centre Square and Yk Centre malls, will still host sales on the evening of June 20.
According to Tesar, Franklin Ave. is no longer a safe location for the festival.
"We (paid groups and volunteers) have suffered both verbal and physical abuse...been spat on, been run into by bikes and pedestrians, sworn at for asking politely if a vendor would clean up their site," wrote Tesar. "When you see parents taking their toddlers (away from the event because of the actions happening around them that should tell you something."
Tesar also runs the Solstice Festival, and is a co-contractor at Fred Henne Territorial Park.
Vicki Tompkins, owner of For Women Only, said she is sorry to see the festival moved off the street, but she had bowed out of the festival's evening component in previous years anyway.
"The shaving cream is a big issue," Tompkins said, referring to the unofficial tradition of young people engaging in shaving cream battles. "If you brush up against one of the kids with shaving cream, and later you get it on something in the store, it's a big loss for us."
Reaction in the community is mixed.
"Weird - that is weird. Ever since I've lived here it's been on this street," said Abbie Smith, who has been a Yellowknife resident for nine years. "It'll be different, but I'll try it out I guess."
"I think it's going to be interesting because it hasn't been done before," said her friend Braeden Moore.
"And cool, because it's grass, not cement, and you can sit down to rest if you want," Smith added.
Others such as Kim Brown are less enthusiastic about the change.
"It's tradition. Raven Mad Daze is supposed to happen on the street," Brown said. "I won't go down there. All the action is happening down (on Franklin Avenue)."
This year's Solstice Festival will feature more than 60 entertainers and vendors in Somba K'e Park and the City Hall parking lot, with other venues throughout the city, according to Tesar.
She said she would like to see the festival move to the Mildred Hall school yard by 2008 or 2009, which is currently being re-landscaped into a downtown park.
"We are working diligently to enhance the Solstice Festival, sometimes this may involve change," she wrote. "If we do not at least try something new, how are we to predict an outcome?"