What’s in a K? | By Graeme Archibald

Last week, Northlands launched the website and revealed the new logo for Edmonton’s annual summer fair, officially called “K-Days”, replacing the much maligned “Capital EX”. Chosen by popular demand last year, K-Days is a throwback to “Klondike Days”, the name of the fair from 1964 to 2006, when Northlands made the unpopular decision to change the name to Capital EX. Edmonton’s historical involvement in the Klondike Gold Rush is dubious at best – although the city served as the starting point for a number of routes to the Klondike, these ‘trails’ hardly existed and were overly difficult and barely used – however, it provided the fair with an overarching, unifying theme, similar to Calgary’s Stampede. That theme and identity was arguably lost with the change to the generic Capital EX.

Many Edmontonians still called it Klondike Days or K-Days, and jumped on the opportunity to restore the name to its original glory. While the Klondike identity was lost with Capital EX, it seems even more lost with K-Days, which seems doomed to become an even more generic and boring version of Capital EX.

What does the K mean? Northlands has stated definitively that it will not be bringing back the Klondike days tradition. According to Northlands, “the K can stand for whatever you want it to stand for”. Sounds like a great theme.

Edmonton is a great city, despite our unsurpassed ability to whine about pretty much everything. According to Numbeo’s crowd-sourced rankings of quality of life, Edmonton ranks number three in the world (some have pointed out the deficiencies in crowd-sourced datasets and point to more respected rankings like Mercer or the Economist, however, neither of those publications includes Edmonton in their rankings as they consider it too close to Calgary). Despite our advantages, there is one thing we lack – a cohesive identity. Edmonton should be more than a city with a big mall, or the place where rich rig-pigs with truck nuts from Fort Mac spend their money on weekends. How many people are truly proud Edmontonians, who love and care about their city? Our civic identity remains weak, and K-Days provides no help in this regard, despite having the potential to.

Even though people loved the K-Days moniker, it is a meaningless title, and wholly inappropriate for our city’s signature summer event. Edmonton will never fully realize its potential without a true civic identity, and it is disappointing that K-Days couldn’t be the start of something new. Maybe it is time Edmonton moved past mediocre summer fairs and focused on bigger, better events like Taste of Edmonton, Heritage Days, the Fringe Festival, or many other successful summer events.

What does the K mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!

K-Days runs from July 19-28, 2013.

Graeme Archibald is a fourth-year Political Science student who hasn’t been to Klondike Days/Capital EX/K-Days in almost six years because he finds it crowded and boring. He does love those mini-donuts though. You know, those ones at the entrance to the midway? Delicious.

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  • Quentin

    I wholly agree with your article Graeme! I’ve been to “K-Days” 2 years in a row now after a long hiatus and will not be going back, it is quite boring and mediocre. I think that Edmonton should really come up with an event truly unique to the city, so that pride that you say is lacking will begin to develop. Edmonton shouldn’t be considered “Deadmonton,” it’s more than that and the potential is there.

  • Marilyn Buffalo

    I look forward to Klondike Days 2013. I plan to dress up my grandchildren in klondike attire, as a reminder of days gone by when our grandmother Harriett Buffalo would insist we dress up in klondike style hats and frilly dresses. I know it will be great fun.