Solfest weekend continues to be a major hit in Rankin Inlet

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The spectacle may have only just completed its third year, but the legacy of the annual Solfest Gala and outdoor concert is slowly beginning to take shape around top-notch headlining performers and support opportunities for strong local talent after a third-straight success was racked-up in Rankin Inlet.

This year’s event saw Inuit rockers, Northern Haze, return to Rankin to rock the Solfest Gala and concert for a second time on June 15 and 16.

Nunavut’s favourite hardrock group, Northern Haze, rocks the Solfest Gala at the community hall in Rankin Inlet on June 16. Photo courtesy of Mark Wyatt

Lucien Taleriktok and DJ Gabe also performed during the gala, while Taleriktok and young artist Kayden Mercer joined Northern Haze for the outdoor concert.

Northern Haze also headlined the original 2017 Solfest concert, being joined by Terrie Kusugak, Angnakuluk and the Midnight News, while the Jerry Cans took centre stage in 2018, also supported by Terrie Kusugak and the Midnight News.

Rankin Inlet Fire Department Chief Mark Wyatt said he and his fellow firefighters put the word out around the community numerous times, asking which band people would most like to see perform at the 2019 edition of Solfest.

He said the name that kept coming back was Northern Haze, so the rockers were booked to appear again.

“It was obvious that Northern Haze was the favourite choice by many of those who let us know who they wanted to appear,” said Wyatt.

“I asked about having the Jerry Cans make their second appearance, or, perhaps, having Twin Flames headline this year, but Northern Haze was the name that kept coming back to us.

“They’re a pretty popular band up here.”

Big crowds produce long lineups for every activity and treat during the Solfest outdoor concert and community celebration in Rankin Inlet on June 16. Photo courtesy of Mark Wyatt

The Solfest Gala is an indoor fundraiser for the local fire department, which also holds a giant raffle at the same time.

The following day’s outdoor concert is free of charge as a way for the department to give a little something back to the community, and the hamlet also has the Bouncy Castles out for the kids to make the afternoon a true family event.

Wyatt said the grand prize for this year’s raffle was an Arctic Cat 500 with a custom-built trailer, and the gala was completely sold out once again.

He said both the gala and the outdoor concert were well-received by the community.

“We do these special events as fundraisers, but, honestly, we make more money off of bingo than we do from them, especially for the amount of work that goes into it all.

“But we did manage to raise about $15,000 for the department with Solfest, as well as a lot of good will with the community.

“We still pay most of the bands for their outdoor performance, even though the concert is free to the public. They don’t charge us nearly as much for the outdoor Sunday performance, but we still have a lot of expenses because of giving away hotdogs and all sorts of other things.

“It’s, more or less, our version of a family fun day, with the recreation department bringing out all its Bouncy Castle attractions for the kids and M&T providing the stage. It works out quite well.”