Haines Beer Fest surprise afterparty – Yukon News

Last weekend, the Canada Border Services Agency treated us to one of those quirky and unexpected experiences that make life in the Yukon so wonderful: a surprise afterparty on the way home from Beer Fest in Haines.

Taking just a minute or two longer to process each car than US Customs needed on Friday night on the way to Haines, they managed to create a one-mile, three-hour rolling street party along the highway leading to Pleasant Camp crossing.

The weather was fine and the truck’s thermometer read 27°C. The revelers immediately rolled out all the toys they had brought to Haines. Someone installed cornhole boards. Frisbees and volleyballs streaked through the air. Yukoners lounged shirtless on lawn chairs by the side of the road, their wintry skin gradually taking on a darker pink hue as the queue slowly climbed the hill. The guy in front of us was soaking his cap in the icy water in his cooler.

Dogs frolic and children walk around with fast-melting frozen treats.

We reconnected with old friends and made new ones.

“Is this a Canadian Woodstock?” asked a wide-eyed tourist from Maine as he drove.

The fact that there is no cell coverage at Pleasant Camp brought back memories of the Atlin Music Festival. With nothing to check on your phone, you were forced to talk to people and have fun.

We must recognize that it took some selfless leadership to get Border Services to embrace the spirit of Alaska’s oldest craft beer festival and host the afterparty.

Some people in the queue were unaware of the joke and said unfriendly things about the Agency’s jurisdiction. Had the department been cut off from the internet and not seen the social media frenzy leading up to Southeast Alaska’s first gathering of beer connoisseurs?

Did the Advanced Threat Analytics team in Ottawa have a badly tuned big data model that somehow thought “Beer Fest” plus “dramatic weather forecast” equaled “low border traffic?” “

Especially since the same number of people had driven in the opposite direction two days earlier. The hundreds of revelers had all filled out the ArriveCAN application. The Agency therefore knew precisely how many people were planning to head out on Sunday afternoon.

The Agency also lost an unknown amount of customs revenue. You don’t have to pay duty on the beer you drank in the sun while your designated driver slowly crawled the car uphill.

The only downside was that there were no food trucks or ice cream carts. But it’s understandable. The Agency has been caught in an unsolvable Catch-22. If they told Haines food trucks about the event, not everyone would show up at the same time to line up at the border. But if they didn’t let everyone know in advance, there wouldn’t be any food trucks.

Finally, for us, the party was over and we went to Canadian customs. It was there that we understood how they had managed to provoke a rolling three-hour street party when their American colleagues had been unable to provoke a queue of more than five vehicles on the way down.

We were asked what we had bought in Haines, which was so little that it made me feel guilty that we hadn’t been more diligent shoppers at the Beer Fest merchandising tent. Are we over our alcohol limit? No. Maybe cannabis products? No. We had no more than $10,000 in any currency. Do we have firewood? No, we didn’t. Maybe furs? If not furs, then skins? Again, unfortunately not, although it would be strange to import fur into the Yukon.

They even asked this question that border guards from other countries never asked me, even when crossing China or the former Soviet Union: what is the relationship between your party members? We gave the people behind us a bit more time to enjoy the party by explaining who was married to whom, which people in the back were kids, boyfriends of kids, or just friends.

A new friend didn’t believe the Agency threw the party on purpose. Could it just be an irresponsible federal department that does not care about the time it is wasting citizens? This cynic pointed to routine traffic jams at border crossings across the country’s southern border.

Government spending in Canada is at record highs, so money for more border guards isn’t the issue.

This is a discouraging point of view. It evokes that old cliché: the left hand of government is trying to promote tourism while the right hand is doing its best to discourage crossing the border.

We appreciate the many government and tourism industry representatives who meet regularly to discuss how to promote tourism in the Yukon. They hold press conferences, announce new programs and spend millions on tourist advertisements, while deep in their hearts they know that an unknown number of Americans have decided not to visit because of the border.

I doubt seeing the afterparty prompted the guy from Maine to take to TikTok and recommend driving to Canada.

When White Pass announced that the trains would not cross the border this summer, I wondered how many other tours themselves and cruise ships would offer if the Canadian border was as easy to cross as driving from Sweden to Denmark or even from France to Great Britain. ferry.

Of course, if all these questions made us safer, it would be worth it. But you have to ask yourself. Take questions about relationships between five Canadian adults with valid passports. How many illegal gun shipments to Toronto gangs do these questions uncover?

The border guards themselves were lively and professional. But if the afterparty wasn’t on purpose, their bosses have some questions to answer.

In the meantime, grab a Frisbee and some snacks the next time you cross the border for an event or a long weekend. And if you’re reading this in Haines or Skagway, you can plan to make big bucks parking your food truck on the US side of Canadian Customs any long weekend this summer.

Keith Halliday is a Yukon economist, author of Yukon Aurora adventure novels for young people and co-host of the Klondike Gold Rush History podcast.

Yukonomist

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