Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Sourdough Rendezvous

When we were choosing which weekend to go up and try to see the Northern Lights, we selected this particular weekend, because it was the weekend of the Sourdough Rendezvous, Whitehorse's annual cabin fever festival.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  Whatever I expected, I should have probably downsized expectations.  Because, as previously mentioned, the place is small.  Part of the Rendezvous included the International Snow Sculpting Challenge, and I think there were something like 7 entries.  (And that included "Alaska" and "United States" as two separate entries -- Alaska was under its own flag -- a fact which probably says a hell of a lot about how Alaska, and Canadians living nearby, perceive it in relation to the rest of the U.S.)

And yet (and yes, there are pictures coming), the actual snow sculptures were really quite nifty.  The competition was lacking in entries, but it wasn't lacking in quality.

There was a tent with a stage and performers (who were late getting on stage and did their sound check right there in front of everyone -- noboby cared, it was warm in there).  There were various variety acts, the crowning of the Queen (as well as the selection of one "Sourdough Sam"), and, shortly after the Queen and her court are announced, they play the local high school in a Teens vs. Queens hockey match.

There were a few booths set up selling food.  Before we even got to the Rendezvous, I told Margret I'd buy her something "onna stick," confident that this would, in fact, be on the menu.  It was.  (Pork, as it turned out.)

I have to admit, though, that what I was most interested in were the competitions.  Like Speed-Sawing and Hatchet-Throwing.  The whole thing was incredibly good-natured, with a crowd standing around.  (Don't stand behind the hatchet-throwing target.  Really.  I saw two hatchets fly past the little safety net back there during the practice throws.)  And everyone cheered everyone else on, especially the folks who'd never sawed a block of wood or thrown a hatchet before.

All that said, I think -- and Margret agrees with me on this one -- that my enduring memory of the Sourdough Rendezvous was when this one dude was taking practice hatchet throws, and the emcee made a comment about the dude being a "real Yukon man."  I pulled my eyes away from the target and over to said specimen of Yukoniness, to see that a rather large unclothed expanse had appeared between his (flannel) shirt and his pants, and the revealed backside skin was ... I'll just say he provided his own warmth in the winter.  And the furry fellow reacted not with embarrassment, but pride.

Over the weekend, I heard a lot of talk from locals about how Whitehorse used to be a real frontier town, but now it's just getting too civilized.  The Sourdough Rendezvous is Whitehorse's annual attempt to dig in its heels a bit against the inevitable march toward Starbucksification.  It's a celebration of the frontier spirit, the traditions that hold a community together, and the quirks that set it apart from everyone else.


peg said...

"Teens vs. Queens"?

Why, yes, I am 12.

Wil said...

Here it is almost April, but nary a peep. Are you Ok, gal?