Rankin Inlet’s iconic spring festival is coming back in full glory, with other communities invited, Ski-Doo races, dances, games and, finally, zero pandemic restrictions.

“Our winters are long enough, but the two years without enjoying spring was even longer,” said Deputy Mayor Martha Hickes.

“We’ve waited two long years for it. We’re excited about the celebrations coming up.”

The event is scheduled to start Monday, April 25, and run until Sunday, May 1, kicking off with a community feast in the rec hall, followed by ‘fear factor’ and a square dance.

On Tuesday, April 26, an Elders breakfast and games will open the day, with bingo in the afternoon, a mini Ski-Doo race on Williamson Lake, target shooting at the shooting range and a teen dance to finish the night.

Scavenger hunts, a Scrabble tournament, more square dances, community games and a kid’s carnival will precede the opening of the adult Ski-Doo races in the Kivalliq Snow Challenge, set to begin Friday, April 29.

“The whole town goes down to the sea ice,” said Hickes about the snowmobile races. “That’s the funnest time.”

Bobby Misheralak, president of the Kivalliq Snow Challenge, said he’s looking forward to seeing racers have a good time competing. There are five race categories this year: ladies, juniors 18 and under, seniors 19 and over, masters 35 and under and veterans 50 and under, plus children’s races on Williamson Lake.

“We know competition will be going on right from the first race,” said Misheralak. “It will be intensive as always with all the categories. Anything can happen – breakdowns and wipeouts are always factors.”

There are always medics on site and the committee tries to ensure the races are set up in the safest way possible, he said.

“Good luck to all who are joining the races this year,” said Misheralak.

And finally again, those in surrounding communities are welcome and invited.

“We’ll be able to see our friends, be able to see our family from across the region, and not have to treat each other as if we’re poisonous if we go near each other,” said Darren Flynn, senior administrative officer with the hamlet.

He thinks people are going to enjoy the festivities this year as things finally get back to normal.

“We still know that we have Covid, but we’re now learning how to live with it as it goes on,” said Flynn. “This is going to be just great for everybody. It’s a complete departure from the last two years. Everybody’s looking forward to it.”

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