I’m ashamed to say the few hours I spent on the Brigus festival grounds on Aug. 10 marked my first experiences with the Blueberry Festival.
For the past 27 years, the festival has been a staple on the local festival circuit and has attracted thousands of tourists and residents alike to the grounds.
It attracts people from all over the province, and country alike, to experience this little slice of our fair province.
I began my journey at the top of Station Road. It was not long before I met people aimed at a Blueberry fest experience. Some were seasoned veterans, while others seemed bright eyed at their first appearance.
A few minutes later the first musical notes grab my attention. They are the familiar tones of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline.’
A couple feet, and a ‘bah,bah,bah,’ down the road and I’ve found the source of the music. The Wiseman Brothers are holding their own mini-festival in the garage of a resident.
After a stop to admire their musical prowess, I was back on the road.
The sign on the white picket fence on Station Road in Brigus read ‘Blueberry tarts!’
Next to it, another excited proclamation awaited my gaze. ‘A festival must!’ it exclaimed followed by Canada AM in brackets.
Scrawled on two pieces of bristol board, it was dressed with blue paint and a colourful tart in the top right corner of the first board.
Not one to turn down an alluring sign, I tightened the strap of my camera bag and with a little jump in my step wandered off to see where the sign directed me.
Waiting eagerly was resident Dennis Lambe and his wife serving up fresh tarts to any one who wanted one. In the couple of minutes it takes to snap a pic of Dennis with one of his tarts, the pair have served over half-a-dozen eager customers.
Before long the sweet sound of an accordion followed by a fiddle or acoustic guitar reached my inner eardrum.
The calling cards of traditional Irish music, one of the staples folk festivals are built upon.
If you choose, you can watch the band spin out their renditions of ‘The Irish Rover’ or you can go about your day with it playing in the background.
Crossing through the threshold, the Blueberry Festival is something to behold. Main Street is alive as travellers are occupying every nook on the street.
I say travellers because that is what we all are at events like these. We move from booth to booth longing to experience everything it has to offer.
One thing is certain at the Blueberry Festival. You will meet people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet. You may connect with long-lost friends and family members.
Brigus Mayor Byron Rodway is a hard man to nail down during the festival. He is buzzing around the grounds, from stage-side to fetching whatever is needed, Rodway is your man.
In a quick convo, he notes numbers were down “a little” but he was pleased with this year’s edition.
Other festival-goers are just as excited. They love the music and, of course, the blueberries.
The festival has a little bit for everyone, but it is seen differently through each set of eyes.
You can find whatever you desire at the festival. If you want a caricature done, you got it. If you want a bag of mini-donuts with cinnamon salt, you can have that too.
Even if you just want to sit and enjoy a day with your family, you got it.
Sunday marked my first time in the 30 years at the Blueberry Festival. What met me was something to behold and really proves what continues to make this event a go to for the region.
— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org