Midway Lake Music Festival gets underway near Fort McPherson, N.W.T.

The Midway Lake Music Festival gets underway near Fort McPherson this weekend. The annual event is a celebration of Gwich'in food, culture and music.

‘Lots of visiting, lots of dancing and lots of storytelling,’ says organizer Hazel Nerysoo

Fans and partygoers at the 2019 Midway Lake Music Festival. (Submitted by Dean Charlie)

People in and around Fort McPherson, N.W.T., are getting ready for the return of the annual Midway Lake Music Festival this weekend. 

The celebration of Gwich'in food, culture and music runs July 29 to Aug. 1 at Midway Lake in the Richardson Mountains about 30 kilometres outside of Fort McPherson.

Hazel Nerysoo is one of the organizers. 

She says this year a group of 30 people are coming in from Alaska to take part, and to offer music classes to young people Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

"Lots of visiting, lots of dancing and lots of storytelling," is what she's expecting. 

Among the many musical acts are Johnny Landry and his band from Fort Providence, the Fort Good Hope drummers, Ben Charlie and Henry Nukon from the Yukon, Josh & Jamie Tetlichi with Harold Frost, also from the Yukon, and others from closer to home. 

Attendees at the Midway Lake Music Festival in 2019. (Submitted by Dean Charlie)

The event will also include a memorial to Evelyn Krutko, who died in December, and whose family is planning to attend.

In previous years, the festival has attracted more than 1,000 people to the site, which includes large tents, a stage, an outdoor kitchen and outhouses, and is surrounded by several private cabins. 

Nerysoo said she visited the site Wednesday night, and it was already a hive of activity.

"You could hear the hammering and the sawing and grass cutting and wood cutting and just all that excitement," she said. 

"The people there are all excited, getting their places ready."

She's most excited about the visiting aspect.

"I'm looking forward to family," said Nerysoo. "Just spending time together because we don't do that in the communities anymore." 

Tickets are available on site, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own tents.

With files from Peter Skinner