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Omingmak Frolics spring festival goes ahead outdoors, online

Ollie the muskox made his return Wednesday, in plenty of time to open the Omingmak Frolics spring festival in Cambridge Bay.

Ollie the muskox made his return Wednesday, in plenty of time to open the Omingmak Frolics spring festival in Cambridge Bay.

Ollie had been missing for a few days as part of a contest in the lead-up to festivities. Hints as to his whereabouts were published online daily and many children in the community were determined to find him. Five-year-old Jack Analok made a sign with a depiction of Ollie and stood out in the streets with his mother Judi Okpik Lyall, trying to locate the mascot. Jack was worried about Ollie and didn’t want to go home without knowing he was safe, Judi said.

The ever-popular muskox delighted students at Kullik Ilihakvik on Wednesday afternoon, showing up to hand out candy and was readily hugged by the eager youngsters.

Festival events are set to get underway on Friday. This year’s edition of the Omingmak Frolics will take place outdoors and online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was only earlier this week that Nunavut’s chief public health officer officially approved of the scheduled events, allowing the festival to go ahead, said Valter Botelho-Resendes, a member of the organizing committee.

The Frolics didn’t take place last year due to the emergence of the coronavirus.

The lineup of activities from May 14 to 24 includes a parade, virtual opening and closing ceremonies, a radio bingo, snowmobile races, a poker rally, fishing derbies, a seal hunt, an ice sculpture contest, a virtual jigging contest, and a variety of virtual games.

“Usually we have a pancake breakfast and usually we have a dinner – we can’t do any of that type of stuff,” Botelho-Resendes said, adding that adult and teen dances also had to be omitted from the festivities.

To ensure social distancing, he gave an example of the ice sculpture contest, whereby participants will create their masterpieces in their yards and then the hamlet will send judges around town to take photos and then gather to assess the entries.

“That’s kind of how we’ve combatted some of the things… just to keep it going,” said Botelho-Resendes said of the efforts of the organizing committee, which comprises about a dozen people.

With so many events scheduled to happen outdoors, some assistance from Mother Nature will be critical.

“The weather in the North plays a huge impact on everything, no matter what. We’re hoping that it co-operates this year for sure. We’ll definitely need that more than ever,” he said.

Although there are limitations to activities and the weather may be less than ideal at times, a lot of residents are keen to indulge in the spring festival.

“The community is very excited,” Botelho-Resendes said. “They need it. It’s been a long year.”