The fourth annual Festival by the Lake continued the event’s rising popularity among community members and folks across the Kivalliq region in Baker Lake this past month.
The event ran from Aug. 24-26 and featured everything from rides in a hot-air balloon to water-walking balls, traditional games and activities, a mini dunk tank, numerous live performers, a large number of children’s activities, community feasts, dances and a fireworks display.
Karen Yip, Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) community liaison co-ordinator for the Meadowbank Division in Baker Lake, is handing off the baton after spending the past four years as the event’s lead co-ordinator.
Yip said Festival by the Lake is a great festival and a positive event for the community that provides opportunities and benefits.
She said the festival actually owes its roots to being an AEM Family Fun Day that has seen AEM and the hamlet of Baker Lake team up to deliver what has become a growing regional event in partnership with sponsors such as Calm Air, Arctic Fuel Services, and other community-based partners.
“Those people have been a major, major help to us in the sponsorship department,” said Yip.
“The idea behind the festival is to promote wellness, fun, entertainment and inspiration within our community.
“I have an amazing amount of fun making positive memories for kids – and adults too – and it’s a joy to see the kids smiling, laughing and just enjoying being kids for awhile.
“The festival has become an event the entire community looks forward to every year.”
Yip said Festival by the Lake also provides an opportunity to hold fashion shows that showcase local initiatives such as beaded-amauti and parka-making programs.
She said the festival also helps showcase local products and talent, which always goes over well with the community.
“We have, for example, people who really know how to sing but don’t often get the opportunity to get up there and show the community what they can do.
“We also showcase new businesses such as Fiona’s Hair Salon.
“Fiona (Angatajuak) went to a hairdressing school in Ottawa and then returned to Baker to start her own business.
“She donated her services to the festival’s auction this year and that gave us the opportunity to promote her business, which she’s really working hard to grow.”
Yip said three other areas the festival effectively promotes are youth, imagination and volunteerism.
She said it has a hardcore group of volunteers who are mostly high school kids in grades eight through 11.
“Not only do they show-up for all the meetings; they actually make me call meetings because they want to get together to discuss our progress, and that’s really gratifying.
“It really makes me happy to promote and encourage volunteerism and positivity within our community because volunteerism is not as common as it used to be.
“Our volunteers are a great group of enthusiastic kids who like to have a purpose, something to do, and the opportunity to help out within the community.
“Some might think it a cliche, but I really believe a number of these kids are going to be our leaders of tomorrow.”
This year’s festival attracted upwards of 1,500 people during its three-day run, with a growing number of visitors to Baker from across the region .
Yip said the 2018 Festival by the Lake also benefitted four local charities and associations in the Abluqta Society, Hot Lunch program, Baker Lake Youth Athletics Association and Baker Lake Minor Hockey Association.
She said they will be the recipients of the proceeds raised during a number of festival activities.
“For me, another great thing to come out of my four years with the festival are the often inspiring stories you hear from many of the participants, like the year we had a couple of young boys doing air guitar by the end of the stage during the entire concert performed by the Midnight News from Rankin Inlet.
“The festival helps build dreams, encourage possibilities and create happy memories.
“It’s been very popular during its four years up and running, and I’m sure it will continue to be so going forward with some very capable people stepping up for the 2019 undertaking.”
Yip said during the past four years Festival by the Lake has provided Baker Lake with a level of entertainment the community would probably never have experienced otherwise.
She said the festival has featured a popular Elvis impersonator, world class jugglers, international children’s entertainers, TV stars, circus performers, acrobats, Jake Chenier, the Trade-Offs, the Midnight News, and a pair of fantastic clowns from Northern Quebec in Clopin Lanouille and Mr. Nono.
“This year we highlighted a lot of people from the Kivalliq region such as Alan Voisey of Whale Cove, DJ Laz of Arviat and the Baker Band.
“For attractions we’ve had Winnipeg’s Prairie Exotics bring in their snakes and spiders, and a lot of the kids were just fascinated by them.
“We’ve also had water-walking balls, Nunavut’s first zip-line and, of course, our hot-air balloon.
“And, over the years, we’ve had volunteers dressed up as characters from shows such as Frozen and Paw Patrol, and the kids go absolutely crazy over them.”
Yip said the festival has boosted community spirit in becoming a go-to event that people plan to attend.
She said it’s a community-wide festival that truly does offer something for kids of all ages.
“We really try to motivate people to get involved, try something different, be resourceful and use their imagination in many of the activities we schedule.
“I’ve always known Inuit to be resourceful, imaginative and creative people, so it’s fantastic to be able to showcase those abilities so everyone can see what people in our community are capable of doing and how they inspire others to do likewise.
“We’ve had many requests from musicians and entertainers to either attend our festival or be offered the opportunity to come back again – from Winnipeg, Northern Quebec and communities across our region – so that shows the festival is becoming larger, more well-known and more popular.”