Dawson City Music Festival slows down

A week after a well-attended Atlin Arts and Music Festival, it was quiet weekend in Dawson City, relatively speaking.

A week after a well-attended Atlin Arts and Music Festival, it was quiet weekend in Dawson City, relatively speaking.

The annual Dawson City Music Festival – headlined this year by Canadian rockers Rural Alberta Advantage – still drew a sold-out crowd on Saturday, albeit a subdued one.

Paul McDonagh, the owner of the Westminster Hotel in Dawson, home of the The Pit, said “it was noticeably slower than previous years.”

He suggested that most people probably have room in the budgets for either the Atlin or Dawson event, but not both.

Rooms remained available at the Eldorado Hotel though they were sold out at the Downtown Hotel. The Midnight Sun hotel is currently closed.

Cpl. Shawn Pollard, head of the RCMP’s traffic unit in Yukon, said they handed out one impaired driving charge, five drug seizures, a couple 24-hour driving suspensions and 30 tickets written for various motor vehicle act offences.

“It was probably the quietest I’ve seen,” he said of the weekend festival.

Despite the relative quiet, the artists performing at Dawson, wide-ranging in their sound, were well received.

The lineup included By Divine Right, a Canadian indie-rock outfit from Toronto that has been active since 1989; Halifax-based Cousins; MonkeyJunk, a soul and blues band from Ontario; and local Dawsonites The Naysayers, among others.

Rural Alberta Advantage, the headliners, took the main stage Saturday night, shortly after 1 a.m., with some Yukon Jack floating in their system after each of the bands’ three members downed a Sour Toe Cocktail.

The Toronto rockers, who will be releasing their third studio album – Mended with Gold – in September, played a few songs from each of their albums. Their trademark sound – ramshackle, pulsating folk rock, with the drums front and centre – had the Dawson crowd stomping along.

On Sunday they followed it up with a second performance just after 8:30 p.m. The festival closed around midnight on Sunday with many of the acts reuniting on stage for a final send-off.

Working the night shift

City workers, many with music festival wristbands still on, had a surprise shift on Saturday evening, when a water main burst at Church and Fifth just after 8 p.m.

Barricades were picked up from the festival and trucked over to secure the block as the water gushed, bubbling up from under the road in three locations.

A red sedan was caught directly in line with the most powerful section of the flooding, and as the water level rose above the boardwalk and pushed up against the base of the Dawson Christian Fellowship, a front-end loader was brought in to tow the car out.

The owner showed up moments later and was able to back out, with the water reaching halfway up the tires.

Chunks of road tore off and flooded down Church Street in the stream as the front-end loader went to work digging up the road to access the water main.

The freshly dug hole was quickly flooded as the remaining water drained from the pipes.

“The pipe is under a lot of stress in that area,” said Norm Carlson, Dawson’s public works superintendent.

A joint on the pipe had broken open and Carlson said the city was repairing it with a large clamp.

A weekend to remember

Though it wasn’t as wild as years past, for one couple it was a weekend they’ll never forget.

Michelle Brown and Rich Thompson, former Whitehorse residents who moved back home to Ontario last August, returned to the territory on Friday morning.

Walking off the tarmac at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, Thompson led Brown down to the Black Street stairs, to a waiting car, the couple hauling their bags as they walked.

“I wasn’t impressed because I had all my luggage with me,” said Brown, of the unexpected hike. That soon changed.

Along the way Thompson handed Brown a package and told her to open it. As she did, he reached into his pocket and came out with a ring. In the package was a dress.

From there the couple rushed off the licensing office, picked up their paperwork and headed to Dawson.

They were married Saturday in a small ceremony by the Yukon River at the waterfront gazebo.

Sandy Silver, Yukon Liberal Party Leader, conducted the ceremony.

“He did a great job,” said Thompson. “We wanted a really laid back kind of feel and he jumped right into it.”

The couple, who originally met at Haines beer fest two years ago, could be spotted near the main stage on Saturday night, dancing away.

Contact Sam Riches at


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