Andrew McKenzie tests his strength by seeing how far he can toss a log during Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse on Feb. 22, 2020. The 2021 will still happen despite COVID-19, but look a little different as it adapts gathering restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Andrew McKenzie tests his strength by seeing how far he can toss a log during Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse on Feb. 22, 2020. The 2021 will still happen despite COVID-19, but look a little different as it adapts gathering restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Rendezvous planned for 2021 with some COVID-19 changes

“This year it’s not just the cabin fever, but the COVID fever”

The countdown is on for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

This year’s celebration will be different, said executive director Saskrita Shrestha, but the organization felt it was important to make something happen despite a pandemic that has forced all public events to adapt.

“We want to stick to our roots and maintain that we are a festival for the community to help everybody get through this long dark winter that we’ve experienced. This year it’s not just the cabin fever, but the COVID fever as we’ve started saying as well,” she said.

The festival announced its intention to go ahead in October, but the organization released details on Jan. 4 about how this year’s festival will look. While as much has been kept as possible — including fireworks and competitions — many events will go digital or have smaller numbers.

In-person events will have strict entry and exit points and one-way traffic whenever possible.

“We’re being very cautious about the safety of Yukoners attending any event in person. So we are really hopeful that things stay where they are. We’re definitely encouraging everybody to check out our virtual stuff that’s going on and our virtual competitions and events as well,” Shrestha said.

The 57th edition of Rendezvous will take place from Feb. 12 to 28.

Snow sculptures will return to Shipyards Park, with blocks carved by six different local teams and on display during the festival weekend. Midnight Sun Fireworks will be lighting off a show on Saturday, which will also be live-streamed.

Other events will include a digital pet parade and a fashion challenge.

In-person events, including the cultural craft fair and Snow Patch events like chainsaw chucking, log toss and axe throwing, will likely be closed and ticketed in order to limit the numbers of people attending. Shrestha said the plan is adaptable based on how COVID-19 progresses in February.

“In terms of in-person events, we’re still hopeful that things don’t suddenly take a turn for the worse. But right now, we are still going ahead,” she said.

The performance stage is still being determined, but performances will be live-streamed this year with likely some limited in-person seating.

The Quest for the Crown Contest won’t be part of the 2021 festival because of how involved the community is. Queen Brenda and her court will continue to represent Rendezvous until the 2022 festival.

Sadly, maple taffy and obstacle courses are also off the table. Without crowds and busy all-day public events, the festival atmosphere is also likely to take a hit.

“While things are going to be a little bit different, I think that this is the light at the end of the almost end of the tunnel. To give the community something to look forward to in a safe manner. We’re a winter festival, we’re an outdoor festival, and we’re a local festival, so I think that was always going to play in our favour,” Shrestha said.

“And there’s always hope for 2022.”

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse

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