In most parts of the world communities hold events/festivals usually to mark and celebrate the coming or going of the seasons. In Canada these tend to be focused on the warmer spring/summer/fall months of the year although winter festivals have been around and are growing in popularity.
These are also usually focused on the particular activities relative to that community. In rural Canada the annual Farmers’ Day parade is popular either early in the spring to celebrate the start of a new farming season, or early fall/autumn to celebrate the harvest – and will include other activities lasting a week-end or a whole week. Throughout the Prairies the rodeo is a popular fixture, celebrating the heritage of ranching and the cowboy lifestyle; the most famous of course being the Calgary Stampede which draws people from around the world as competitors and spectators. In the larger cities and towns there’s often an annual Canada Day Parade on July 1 to celebrate the founding of modern Canada.
Over the years I have attended many such carnivals including the Calgary Stampede, Edmonton Klondike Days, Edmonton Heritage Festival, Stony Plain Farmers’ Days (and other small town parades); Yellowknife Canada Day parade, Smokey Lake Pumpkin festival and more recently the Yellowknife Long John Jamboree. So I am very excited to witness this year’s 40th Annual Omingmak Frolics which officially kicked off in Cambridge Bay yesterday and will go on for the next ten days.
Before the formal settlement the local Inuit people would have gathered in this area during this time of year to hunt and fish together, and to celebrate the return of the long daylight hours and the warmer weather. These gatherings would have included aspects of competition and rivalry such as dog sled racing, physical challenges (now known as arctic sports) and throat singing. The modern day event seems mostly focused on snowmobile racing although there are many other activities to be enjoyed – which I will no doubt write about.
Omingmak is the Inuit name for Muskox which is the buffalo-like animal that roams these parts. The logo of the frolics is therefore aptly a rendition of the Muskox head and the iconic horns. Frolics is an interesting name to be used in the context of the Arctic but it seems a popular moniker for several festivals in this region. In my mind when I hear that word I conjure up images of running carefree through a meadow of grass and wildflowers or playing on a beach by the seaside ! But I guess it captures the essence of the fun, excitement and shenanigans (a synonym from the thesaurus !) of the event that takes place in CB.