Music festival to debut in Cambridge Bay in August

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Melodic voices, drums, guitars and dancing will make for a lively three days in Cambridge Bay Aug. 2-4.

The Ovayok Broadcasting Society is organizing the inaugural Mosquito Music Festival to keep people entertained that long weekend.

The first Mosquito Music Festival is set for Aug. 2-4 long weekend in Cambridge Bay. Welders Daughter from Yellowknife will close out the show.
image courtesy of the Ovayok Broadcasting Society

“There’s a southern Nunavut music festival – in Arviat they have something (the Inuumariit Music Festival) – but outside of that for the northern part of Nunavut there hasn’t been anything,” said Wayne Gregory, president of the broadcasting society. “For the end of summer, we’ve normally been fairly quiet. To liven up and bring entertainment to Nunavut we said we’ll see what we can do.”

Planning by eight Ovayok society members began about three months ago. The timeline is too compressed to accomplish all that the volunteers hoped to include this year.

“We’re going through our trials and tribulations as we speak,” Gregory said, laughing.

However, they’re already starting to arrange some details for the 2020 edition of the Mosquito Music Festival to make it bigger and better, said Gregory.

Throat-singer Donna Lyall will be among the numerous Nunavut cultural performers to take the stage in a couple of weeks.

“If they want or need help with anything else I’m there to help but mostly will be there for the fun,” Lyall said.

Other booked acts include Yellowknife’s Welders Daughter, children’s entertainers The Blues Berries, the gospel trio comprising Shawn, Lynette and Kaison Holmes and local square dancers. Outdoor games, a barbecue and a beer garden are also on the schedule.

Cambridge Bay’s Jerry Puglik, a longtime drum dancer and instructor, said he may get involved in the festival if he has no scheduling conflicts.

I look forward to it. It brings young and old musicians (together) from across Nunavut,” said Puglik. “There’s a lot of talented musicians (locally), we just don’t often see them all the time.”

The performances will take place outside so long as the weather cooperates. As a contingency, the broadcasting society has booked the community hall and both schools in case the entertainment has to move indoors.

The name of the festival was inspired by a documentary that Gregory happened to watch the night before an organizing meeting. That TV show revealed that the highest concentration of mosquitoes in the world is found in the Amazon and the Arctic comes in second place in terms of the flying parasites.

“I was like, what? So I went and did a little research on it and I found it was true. I was shocked,” said Gregory.

The hard-to-avoid blood-sucking pests thereby will gain a little more notoriety in August.

Lyall could do without them.

“I’ve performed outdoors many times – should be interesting. But (I’m) not looking forward to the mosquitoes,” she confessed.

Members of the broadcasting society have worked out a discount for airfare for those flying in for the festival and a discount for accommodations was being negotiated as well, Gregory said.