Get Out!

Thirty one years and counting, the Dawson City Music Festival continues to assail the tiny community of Dawson with unbelievably good music. At one artist for every 59 spectators, statistically, there has to be something for everyone.


Big festival in little Dawson

Thirty one years and counting, the Dawson City Music Festival continues to assail the tiny community of Dawson with unbelievably good music.

At one artist for every 59 spectators, statistically, there has to be something for everyone.

Check out the News’ preview of the 2009 festival at

Look ma, no instruments

Starting out from a Brooklyn street corner, the Persuasions have taken doo-wop a cappella to unprecedented heights.

Apparently, The Beatles, U2 and even the Grateful Dead can be done ample justice using only five sets of vocal chords.

A catalogue of doo-wop classics—belted straight from the source—are hotly anticipated.

“We ain’t no novelty act or nostalgia or any of that. We’re truth,” says bass singer Jimmy Hayes.

“These guys are deep-sea divers … I’m just a fisherman in a boat,” said Tom Waits.

Tuesday, 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre.

horse Jiggy equines

In the 16th century, the Habsburg royal family decided to breed a new kind of battle horse.

Not only would it be able to fight, breeders decided, but it would be able to dance.

The Habsburgs are gone, but their Lipizzaners live on.

Battlefield uses for horses are in short supply (just ask a machine gunner), which means that modern-day Lipizzaners now spend their days dancing for arena-loads of spectators.

Against all logistical odds, the “World Famous” Lipizzaners are now coming to Whitehorse.

See 12 to 14 stallions prance, leap

and weave to “the highest level of dressage.”

At the stirring conclusion, witness the Grand Quadrille, an intricate all-horse ballet.

Polo, by comparison, will look like monster truck racing.

Wednesday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Takhini Arena.


Because it’s there

Three hundred and sixty five days a year, the Midnight Dome looms over the city of Dawson like a protective shield.

One day a year, a few dozen people decide to run up it really fast.

As normal people recover from their Music Fest hangovers, a small band of running enthusiasts will gather once again for the International Dome Race, a sweaty high-elevation scramble to Dawson City’s pinnacle.

In a distance of only seven kilometres, participants climb to an elevation of almost 900 metres.

Organizers call it a “true test of endurance and mental toughness.”

Calculus whizzes beware: physical toughness probably plays a part, too.

Saturday in Dawson City. Call 993-2350 for more info.

Cheap history

Almost half a century before the Klondike Gold Rush, a band of Hudson’s Bay Company officials disembarked at the confluence of the Yukon and Pelly rivers and established Fort Selkirk as a fur trading post.

Unfortunately for the Hudson’s Bay folks, their fort was only up and running for a few months before the Chilkat Tlingit decided to attack and plunder it.

The company tried again in 1938, but the Dawson-to-Whitehorse highway soon made the Fort newly irrelevant.

The twice-failed capitalist adventure of Fort Selkirk now lives on as a grouping of 40 buildings maintained as an historic site by the Yukon government and the Selkirk First Nation.

And on Saturday, you can tour it for free.

Leave the knee-high stiletto boots at home; organizers recommend a pair of good walking shoes.

Saturday at Fort Selkirk, meet at the Pelly Farm. Call 667-3458 for more info.

500 miles, 500 more

For years, the Yukon River Quest’s piddly 760-kilometre river race has been the only competitive outlet for scores of Yukon paddle-junkies.

“No more!” says a chorus of hardcore paddle enthusiasts.

Their response: the Yukon 1000, a 1,600-kilometre river race billed as the “Longest Canoe and Kayak Race in the World!”

Held in the “same spirit of the 20th-century explorer prizes” (the first to fly the English Channel, the first to fly the Atlantic, etc.) the Yukon 1000 provides minimal safety cover to its competitors.

“Each team should think of itself as being on a self-sufficient expedition,” says an official description.

The race starts in Whitehorse, and doesn’t stop until the middle-of-nowhere Alaska Pipeline/Dalton Highway.

“Do you really want to do this?” implores the Yukon 1000 website.

Starts Monday in Whitehorse. Runs until August 1st-ish.


You paid for it

The Yukon government, fulfilling its $300,000-per-year budgetary allocation for public art, has amassed a host of new pieces.

Before they face their ignominious destiny of hanging in the waiting room of some obscure government department, make sure you go see them at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Out of The Void, on until August 13 at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, features recently acquired works by 12 artists.


Just the rats; leave the children

After contract negotiations with the German village of Hamelin went sour, on July 22, 1284, the motley-clad Pied Piper decided to murder every child within city limits.

And you thought Northwestel was tough.

Ever since, the village of Hamelin has regarded conventional ratcatchers with an almost God-like admiration.

Any tradesman who can rid the streets of vermin—and refrain from murdering their children—is a-OK in the eyes of your average Hamelinite.

Worldwide Ratcatcher’s Day is this Wednesday.

Pi Day wasn’t dorky enough

On March 14th (3/14), geeks the world over celebrate Pi Day, a festive commemoration of the world’s most famous mathematical constant.

Typical Pi Day festivities include walking around circular spaces, consuming fruit pies and performing memorized recitations of the thousands of known digits of Pi.

This Wednesday, bring back the magic with Pi Approximation Day.

July 22 can also be read as 22/7, which, when transformed into a fraction, equals 3.14 (obvious, huh?)

Note: Recently, the US House of Representatives refused to pass a resolution recognizing the death of Michael Jackson. On March 14, 2009, however, Pi Day received official Congressional recognition.


Desolate magnificence

The great thing about a Cold War is that it can prompt humans to achieve seemingly impossible feats for almost no reason.

It was July 20, 1969. Only eight years previously, the United States had sent its first man into space.

Now, 384,403 kilometres from Earth, US astronaut Neil Armstrong took his first steps onto lunar soil.

Why? Because the Soviets couldn’t.

To this day, the Apollo moon landing—and the five landings that followed—remain the most expensive, complicated and awe-inspiring “screw you” ever administered in human history.

The perils of metric

Gimli, Manitoba, is best known as the only Canadian municipality to share a name with a fictional dwarf.

But on July 23, 1983, it was the site of Air Canada’s most famous unscheduled stop.

In between losing passenger luggage, the Air Canada ground crew also failed to perform a proper metric conversion.

As a result, the plane lifted off from Montreal with only half a tank of fuel.

Over Manitoba, the plane unexpectedly ran out of gas.

Even though the crew of flight 143 seemed incapable of reading a fuel gauge, they happened to be ridiculously well-suited to landing a fuelless jet in rural Manitoba.

The pilot pursued gliding as a hobby, the co-pilot was intensely familiar with air strips around Gimli.

Down below, the crew spotted the decommissioned Gimli air base, long since converted into a go-kart race track.

Go-kartists scrambled to safety as the 120-tonne aircraft came in for a safe landing.

The pilots were briefly hailed as heros, until they, along with a bunch of ground workers were suspended by Air Canada brass.

The Gimli event also marked the first-ever utterance of the now-common phrase, “I’ll never fly Air Canada again!’”

Got an event listing? E-mail Tristin Hopper