Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut April 15, 2014 - 2:19 pm

Iqaluit-Kimmirut snowmobile race returns to Toonik Tyme

Festival’s second week features more contests and games

PETER VARGA
Brian Twerdin, Honorary Toonik for the 2014 Toonik Tyme festival. The Iqaluit resident earned the honour, complete with the Honorary Toonik award, pictured, for his contributions to the community. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
Brian Twerdin, Honorary Toonik for the 2014 Toonik Tyme festival. The Iqaluit resident earned the honour, complete with the Honorary Toonik award, pictured, for his contributions to the community. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
This polar bear was one of seven ice sculptures completed at Toonik Tyme’s ice sculpting contest, April 13, at the RCMP detachment. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
This polar bear was one of seven ice sculptures completed at Toonik Tyme’s ice sculpting contest, April 13, at the RCMP detachment. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit’s Toonik Tyme festival got off to a quick start April 11 with a weekend full of festivities and contests, and week two promises even more.

Added to the spring festival line-up this week is the Iqaluit-Kimmirut snowmobile race.

“Requests from the community have been very high,” said Travis Cooper, president of the Toonik Tyme Society.

Organizers added the event to the schedule April 14, thanks to support from the communities of Iqaluit and Kimmirut, and festival sponsors.

The popular springtime race was last held in 2009 outside of the festival, and not held as part of the festival for at least seven years, Cooper said.

Set for Saturday, April 19, the race gets underway at 10 a.m., near the breakwater.

All racers require specific equipment to sign on gear, subject to inspection one hour before the start, Cooper said. Entry is $350.

Top prizes are $7,000 for the winner, $3,000 for second place, and a Canadian North airline ticket for the third-place finisher.

Organizers rescheduled the snowmobile drag race event to the next day, April 20, to make way for the big race.

The festival’s opening weekend, April 11 to April 13, drew large crowds to Toonik Tyme’s regular yearly contests, which included the traditional dog team race and less traditional — but equally popular — skijoring race on the sea ice and beach areas.

Maxine Carroll and Sarah McNair-Landry were this year’s winners of the dog team race.

In the city, Solomon Awa opened this year’s slate of traditional contests with igloo-building by the courthouse on April 12.

Paul Irngaut finished ahead of six other contestants under sunny, cloudless skies, earning Canadian North tickets for his efforts.

The men’s senior hockey tournament at the Arctic Winter Games Arena hosted teams from Rankin Inlet, Pangnirtung, Hall Beach, Kuujjuaq, Quebec, and four Iqaluit-based squads.

Pangnirtung took the top prize in Division B, and Iqaluit-based Qikiqtani Industries won Division A.

This year’s Honorary Toonik, Brian Twerdin, presented the Toonik Tyme Cup to the winners. The Division A-winning Qikiqtani Industries team happened to include his two sons, Jimmy and Iola.

Twerdin’s involvement with the sport in Iqaluit goes back almost 40 years, and is part of the reason he earned this year’s title of Honorary Toonik, Cooper said.

“He spent years in the local hockey scene as a volunteer coach, referee, player and serves on the (board of the) Iqaluit Amateur Ice Hockey Association,” he said.

Twerdin owns and runs the Grind and Brew diner, a long-time favourite in Iqaluit. The city honoured him in 2012 for saving a young woman from drowning in the bay.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Twerdin said of the 2014 Honorary Toonik title. “But I’m honoured by it, that’s for sure.”

Other big festival draws as Easter weekend approaches include the Fear Factor contest, Thursday evening, April 17, at the curling rink, and a series of outdoor contests on Good Friday, April 18, starting with a fishing derby at 8:00 a.m.

Saturday, April 18, will be packed with a full day of festivities, starting with a seal-hunting contest at 7:00 a.m. This continues into the afternoon, followed by a seal-skinning contest at 3:00 p.m. at Nakasuk School.

The beach area will host Zumba on Ice in the afternoon, and family crafts games and contests will take place throughout the city.

April 19 ends with the festival’s Closing Feast at the curling rink, featuring folk and traditional music by accordion master Simeonie Keenainak of Pangnirtung. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

See Toonik Tyme’s Facebook page for schedules and other information on the festival.

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