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An Intro to the Rendezvous Festival

Welcome to the Yukon Rendezvous Festival Blog! My name is Chilkoot Carly and I work as the Marketing and Events Coordinator for this festival. You may have many questions such as “what is the Rendezvous Festival?” “how do I not get locked in Keystone Kops Jail?” “what events should I attend?”And have NO fear. I am here to guide you along this Rendezvous adventure.

I will be taking you on a magical journey of the Rendezvous festival. Each week I will be posting about a different component / event of the Festival. By the time we get around to Heritage Day (there's a story there too), you should be ready and educated to take on this northern tradition! OK. HERE. WE. GO.

Where did we come from?

It was the year 1945. People were cold (because it was February in the Yukon) and probably needing something to shake off the winter blues. The All Union Committee backed by the ENTIRE International Trade Union Movement of North and South America decided to run Yukon Carnival Week consisting of wonderful things such as Dog Team Derbies, Ski & Snowshoe Races, Hockey Games, Amateur Fancy Skaters and more! While 1945 is not considered the official start of Rendezvous from this, a movement was born!

Fast forward to 1964, after a couple years of Rolf Hougen being the chairperson of the newly named Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society, the society and name is officially registered and this is what we identify as the first “official” festival date. The 1964 festival drew about 1,500 visitors from outside Whitehorse (population of the Yukon was roughly 14,500 at the time) and the hotels were jammed full. The events consisted of such things as a Bowling Tournament, Basketball Tournament, Fireworks, Beard Contests (bushiest, best trimmed, mutton chops & more) and the legendary Rendezvous Queen Competition.

This is a picture of one of the more traditional events the "Chainsaw Chuck." As indicated by its name, competitors try to throw a chainsaw as far as possible. In case you're concerned, the chainsaw chain is removed and is not powered when thrown.

Here’s a list of some of the past Rendezvous events and competitions that I found most quirky and interesting:

  • Stock Car Racing

  • One Mile Snowshoe Races

  • Motorcycle Races (mind you this is in winter)

  • Public Rifle Shoot (in Whitehorse Elementary School)

  • Fantasy on Ice (figure skating show)

  • Best dressed man / woman

  • Art Exhibit (of Ted Harrison and other artists)

  • Dog Sled Races (with prizes given out to Most Sportsmanlike Musher)

It’s interesting to note that when I was going through the archives of past competitions, many of the ones ran in the 60’s are still events we run today.

This is picture from one of my favourite events the "Pet Parade." Pets compete for the best dressed title. That year's theme (2018) was Heat Wave.

As you can tell, the festival has evolved throughout the years to accommodate the changes of the community. There have been location changes, people changes and even event changes, but the sentiment has stayed the same. It’s all about bringing together a community and celebrating getting through another long and dark winter. Rendezvous is and always will be the Yukon’s cure for Cabin- Fever Blues!

If you have an anecdote about the history of the Rendezvous Festival we would love to hear from you! Please post below or email the story to We will be picking one WINNER from these entries, and this lucky person will be getting a special Rendezvous prize!

Also if you're looking to get more information on the Festival or are interested in volunteering visit :)

That is it from me but stay tuned for more Rendezvous content!!

Chilkoot Carly

(P.S. For those wondering… I will be earning my namesake this summer, so if you have tips on tackling the historic Chilkoot Trail, I would love to hear those too!)

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