Blue­berry bo­nanza

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY TERRY ROBERTS

Or­ga­niz­ers of this year’s Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val say the 23rd an­nual event was the biggest ever, with an es­ti­mated 17,000 peo­ple tak­ing in the four-day event, which ran from Aug. 12-15.

The pre­vi­ous high mark was 15,000 vis­i­tors.

“ It was phe­nom­e­nal. Or as the young peo­ple would say, it was awe­some,” said fes­ti­val chair­man and Bri­gus Mayor By­ron Rodway.

Rodway said the weather was fan­tas­tic and the vol­ume of traf­fic — both on foot and in ve­hi­cles — was over­whelm­ing.

“ It was pic­ture per­fect. The kind of weather that any event like this needs,” he added.

Rodway said the folk fes­ti­val was a smash­ing suc­cess, many of the roughly 75 ven­dors sold out, and com­mu­nity groups raised a con­sid­er­able amount of money on ticket draws, meals and other events.

Rodway said the low prices — $2 for a two-day pass — and the fam­i­ly­ori­ented at­mos­phere con­tin­ues set the fes­ti­val apart from the rest. It didn’t hurt that so many peo­ple left with their bel­lies swollen with blue­berry tarts, pies and other tasty treats, Rodway said.

But like any event of this size, Rodway ad­mit­ted there were some glitches. The most no­table was at the ad­mis­sion gate.

“ We didn’t have enough peo­ple on the gate,” he said. “ We sim­ply weren’t pre­pared for the vol­ume of peo­ple com­ing at one time”

He said there were long line-ups, with up to 150 wait­ing to en­ter the field area at times. He said the is­sue will be ad­dressed for next year’s event, which is sched­uled for Aug. 11-14, 2011.

He noted that of­fi­cials with the Avalon North Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion played a big role in speed­ing the ad­mis­sion process by as­sist­ing vis­i­tors with their wrist­bands.

“ They were very po­lite and pro­fes­sional, and a great as­set,” Rodway stated.

Rodway said there were also sev­eral “in­ci­dents” at the beer tent, but he had high praise for the RCMP and mem­bers of the Avalon North Wolver­ines for their roles in en­forc­ing the laws and man­ag­ing the traf­fic.

He said ve­hi­cle park­ing re­mains a short­com­ing, and many peo­ple likely stayed away be­cause of the con­ges­tion. But he noted the bus shut­tle ser­vice seemed to work well.

“ This year we were that busy we didn’t get our signs on the Tran­sCanada High­way to di­rect peo­ple to the fes­ti­val. Well, maybe that was a good thing be­cause we were full,” said Rodway.

The fes­ti­val’s fu­ture re­mains bright, he noted, and peo­ple have al­ready in­quired about book­ing booth space for 2011.

“I had thought a few years ago we had reached a plateau. But it seems like we’re now on the in­crease again,” he said. edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca The fol­low­ing is a list of con­test win­ners from the 2010 Bri­gus Blue­berry fes­ti­val

• Loonie dash — Pearl Wil­liams of Bri­gus;

• Out-of-prov­ince guest draw — Vanessa Walsh of Water­loo , Ont.;

• Draw win­ners — Dar­rell Rixon, Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Philip’s; Marie O’Dea, St. John’s; Pam Rixon, Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Philip’s; Der­rick Piercey, Roaches Line;

• Missed Blue­berry Fes­ti­val Pageant win­ner — Missed Go­pher (Nathan Barnes, Fla­trock);

• Pie eat­ing cham­pion — Gary Fa­gan, South River

Zachary Hearn of St. John’s play­ing Ring Toss.

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