Garters are a Yukon Rendezvous tradition. Meet the woman who made thousands
Two thousand garters ago – or three years, more or less – sewing was just a regular hobby for Michele Taylor.
Now she plays a vital role in keeping an important part of the Yukon Rendezvous alive.
“It’s something I never thought I would do, but I love sewing and creating things,” said Taylor, who took on the festival’s Garter Lady a few years ago. She learned how to make them from the previous garter lady, who told her she was looking for someone else to take over.
“She really inspired me,” she said.
“She explained to me how to do it and I sort of figured it out, with measurements and making the garters different than before [ones].”
The garter, a decorative elastic ring formerly used to hold up stockings, is a necessity at rendezvous. Women who don’t wear them run the risk of being arrested by the Keystone Kops, recurring rendezvous characters who imprison people without a beard or garter.
The responsibility means Taylor sews a plethora of ruffled, sparkly and colorful garters for every rendezvous — making them even more ruffled or sparkly when the rendezvous society asks for it.
For example, this year’s Specialty Garter features a tiny hat.
But the sheer volume of garters she sews hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for the event she’s been celebrating since childhood.
“My grandmother and aunt sewed clothes for us, and they also dressed and went to work in their clothes,” she recalled.
“I’m proud to be able to continue the tradition.”
The rendezvous officially kicked off earlier this month but is kicking off in full force this weekend in Whitehorse. Friday, Saturday and Sunday have packed schedules – everything from burlesque and fiddle shows to chainsaws and parades (one for pets and one for people).
Tamara Fischer, president of the Rendezvous board, said some of the events — for example, ax throwing and chainsaw banging — require people to sign waivers. Aside from that, this year Rendezvous is free and people can attend events without paying.
“I really love seeing everyone out and about and just enjoying the festival overall,” she said.
“It’s what keeps me coming back year after year.”