Building the perfect carnival
It's like a roller coaster!

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - Ina Murray's sense of humor keeps her going.

Donning a heavy stuffed caribou head to promote Caribou Carnival is just one of the things she does without hesitation.

She jokes that supermodel Cindy Crawford wasn't available for the photo session, so she'd have to do -- even if she was having a bad hair day.

Murray is co-ordinating Caribou Carnival for the second year in a row.

"Tents blew down the night after we put them up because of a storm last year," she recalls. Snowmobile and dog derby tracks blew in too, and had to be remade with a loader.

This year has again been hectic, and not without its problems.

"As organized as you are, something comes up that you're not expecting," she says.

Looking after 150 volunteers is not easy. "If people want their ideas included, they have to be part of the process," Murray says.

"It's like a roller-coaster -- one day everything goes really well and the next day is overwhelming with details. But overall, it's a wonderful way to meet the community."

The carnival is run by a non-profit organization. It receives most of its financing from fund-raising, with a little help from the city and GNWT. The bulk of organizing is in the hands of five board members and Murray.

"We have 8,000 to 10,000 people go through the site," says Murray. "People are planning holidays around events. We get calls from all over North America and Europe about Caribou Carnival."

For four months leading up to carnival, Murray's weeks are filled with meetings, potential volunteers calling to offer their services or veteran volunteers wondering looking for the large paper-cutter. Then there's promotional orders that need to be made yesterday and schedules yet to be printed ...

Murray still requires volunteers to do things like sell buttons, act as caribou cops and work in the kids area.

In her spare time, precious as it is, Murray finds time to cook and entertain for her friends. She also likes to spend time with her husband, Ryan Murray, a jazz guitar player, and her son Jordon, aged 15.

She's been in the North for 10 years, having lived previously in Iqaluit and Fort Smith.