Flyin’ Bob will be performing at the festival. (Submitted photo)

Haines Junction’s new Augusto Festival focuses on the Yukon’s smallest fans

Organizers plan a weekend of festivities specifically aimed at kids

The kind of childhood imagination sparked by an oversized cardboard box is being channelled into the territory’s newest art and music festival this weekend in Haines Junction.

Events at the Augusto! Children’s Festival, which runs from August 11-13 at the St. Elias Convention Centre, are all focused on some of the territory’s youngest residents: kids 12 and younger.

“Festivals are good for communities and there’s no dedicated children’s festival in the Yukon,” said Darlene Sillery, one of the festival’s co-organizers. “We have all these festivals with great kids zones, but no dedicated kids festival.”

A pass to Toddler Town, for kids from two to four years old, means crafts, stories and a chance to play on multiple cardboard structures built by organizers.

So far they’ve constructed contraptions ranging from a ship and a bulldozer to a post office.

“It’s still expanding,” said organizer Marty Ritchie earlier this week. “We’ve sort of delayed setup until the very last minute so we can keep working.”

“If the kids have half as much fun as the five of us had (building the creations), it’s going to be a blast,” Sillery added.

A weekend pass for the older kids means they can sign up for as many as six workshops.

That includes the chance to take an introductory judo class, learn circus skills, build a robot or learn to felt.

Many of the weekend’s events include a focus on recycling or creating zero waste. Ritchie is running a Be a Recycling Superhero workshop where kids can decorate their own cape made out of a t-shirt.

“I think a win is that people come and have fun,” she said.

“Another win would be that we do it again next year and the word will be out.”

Many of the organizers of Augusto! were involved in the annual Alsek Music Festival in Haines Junction which ended in 2008 after 17 years.

Haines Junction is the ideal location for this type of event, Sillery said.

“Our community has seen a really major demographic change in the past 10 years. We are now a community of young families and grandparents.”

The festivities begin Friday evening with a performance by the Dakwäkäda Dancers. That will be followed by a kids dance for kids 12 and younger, featuring Clare Ness and the Swing Sets.

Saturday’s evening show is for all ages and will feature performances by Tippy Agogo and Flyin’ Bob Palmer.

Both musicians are also putting on workshops over the weekend.

Palmer has performed his Articulate Nonsense Show, which includes tightwire walking, unicycling and juggling, at children’s festivals across North America.

He said young audiences are honest audiences.

“If they don’t get it, you know instantly that they don’t get it. If they’re laughing like crazy you know it’s honest laughter,” he said.

“You have a very real relationship with your audience when they’re young.”

Younger audiences mean they are often seeing circus tricks for the first time, he said.

“They may have never, ever, seen somebody ride a tall unicycle or walk a tight wire or juggle pingpong balls with their mouth. This is something brand new.

“A performer loves to have an audience which responses enthusiastically, so I like performing for adults but I prefer performing for children.”

Children at the festival must be accompanied by an adult. For more information about the weekend’s schedule and ticket prices visit: www.augustokids.ca

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

ArtsHaines Junction

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Peter Upton tests out the boat he built for this weekend’s Augusto Children’s Festival in Haines Junction. (Yvonne Eleniak/Yukon News)

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