Rendezvous brings Maritime tradition to the Yukon

Yukoners unfamiliar with the liveliness and warmth of Newfoundland's kitchen parties may soon become acquainted with the famous tradition. 

Yukoners unfamiliar with the liveliness and warmth of Newfoundland’s kitchen parties may soon become acquainted with the famous tradition.

The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival is hosting a concert on Feb. 27 dubbed East Meets North Kitchen Party.

Three acts will take the stage at Shipyards Park to replicate the makeshift jam sessions that unfold in kitchens, living rooms and basements across Newfoundland. Kevin Barr and Benjamin Boyd will be joined by Yukon band Celtic Tyde, as well as legendary fiddler Donnell Leahy.

It’s part of this year’s festival theme, “Rendezvous around the world,” explained president Reba Parris Beckett.

Since Leahy and his wife, Natalie MacMaster, were already headlining the festival’s fiddle shows, the organizers invited them to stay a bit longer to take part in one more concert.

“By virtue of who it was it was a natural fit,” Parris Beckett said.

“Our Saturday night tradition is to have a ramped-up, high-energy show. We asked them and they were down with it.”

The kitchen party will also feature some familiar maritime snacks including oysters, lobster rolls and seafood tacos.

Concert-goers, especially non-Newfoundlanders, will also have the opportunity to take part in a tradition known as the “screech-in.”

The ceremony, similar to the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, generally involves taking a shot of Newfoundland Screech rum, reciting a short passage and kissing a cod.

The particulars of a screeching-in ceremony varies from pub to pub and from community to community.

This year, participants need to buy a membership to the Yukon East Coast Cultural Association in order to take part in it.

Members of the organization will be selling them on site, Parris Beckett said.

Whitehorse resident and YECCA member George Green will preside over the ceremonies, which ends with participants receiving a certificate and becoming honorary Newfoundlanders.

Green started a Newfoundland Association in Faro when he lived there, explained Hiedi Cuppage, president of YECCA.

“He even has his own original oath, to boot,” she said.

But participants won’t be kissing any cods this year. The husband of a YECCA member tried getting one during a recent trip to the Maritimes but it didn’t work out, Cuppage said. Green will be using a capelin instead, she added, “a real East Coast fish.”

Cuppage said the organization was thrilled when Rendezvous organizers approached it about being part of this year’s festival.

“Especially considering that we’re still a fairly new organization in town,” she said.

There will also be a do-it-yourself photo booth set-up with a series of east-coast themed props – from fishing nets to sou’wester rain hats, she said.

The East Meets North Kitchen Party is sold out. It will be held at the Shaw Direct Entertainment Tent on Saturday, Feb. 27 starting at 9 p.m.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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