Sun shines on Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val

Com­mit­tee looks for­ward to sil­ver an­niver­sary in 2012

The Compass - - OPINION - AND PHOTOS BY BILL BOW­MAN/THE COM­PASS

On the eve of the 24th Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val, By­ron Rod­way prayed for a break in the weather. After a month of rain, driz­zle and fog that had wreaked havoc on nu­mer­ous out­door events around the Avalon, earn­ing Au­gust the nick­name, “ Fo­gust,” the chair­man of the Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee had good cause for con­cern.

His prayers were an­swered Satur­day morn­ing, Aug. 13, when the sun fi­nally came out of hid­ing, send­ing peo­ple reach­ing for their sun­screen in­stead of oil­skins. It stayed out for the re­main­der of the fes­ti­val.

The crowds were not quite as large as the record close to 17,000 es­ti­mated to have turned out for last year’s fes­ti­val. But the chair­man es­ti­mates around 15,000 passed through the gates dur­ing the four-day event this year.

While the in­flux of visi­tors turns the whole town into a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity, the fes­ti­val’s main events and ac­tiv­i­ties are cen­tred on and around a large field ad­ja­cent to Wil­cox Gar­dens off Wa­ter Street in the heart of town.

The field is sur­rounded by more than 70 con­ces­sions, fea­tur­ing ev­ery­thing from art works and crafts, games of skill and chance, bouncy cas­tles and slides for the chil­dren, and the ever pop­u­lar chips and gravy wag­ons, where peo­ple line up for their favourite scoff.

A blue­berry pie-eat­ing con­test, “Missed” Blue­berry pageant and folk fes­ti­val all take place from the main stage at one end of the field.

A pa­rade, adult dances, ec­u­meni­cal ser­vice and fire­works are also among the favourites with fes­ti­val go­ers.

By keep­ing the fees they charge lo­cal com­mu­nity non profit groups rea­son­able, Rod­way says it gives such or­ga­ni­za­tions an op­por­tu­nity to raise funds to sup­port their re­spec­tive wor­thy causes.

The fes­ti­val has also man­aged to keep its ad­mis­sion fees rea­son­able - a toonie for a day pass and $3 for a week­end pass this year.

A young bull moose was among the visi­tors to Bri­gus dur­ing this year’s fes­ti­val. He hung around Guy’s Lane on Satur­day and Sun­day, but didn’t get close to the fes­ti­val site, Rod­way told The Com­pass. Per­haps the an­i­mal heard about the rule “no pets al­lowed” on site! Or maybe he was afraid some­one might want to turn him into “moose burg­ers” - one of the most pop­u­lar dishes on site.

From its hum­ble be­gin­nings in 1988, when it at­tracted a few hun- dred peo­ple, the Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val has ripened into an event that now draws thou­sands an­nu­ally.

Next year the fes­ti­val will mark its sil­ver (25th) an­niver­sary. When asked about plans to mark that mile­stone, the chair­man said, “ we’ll prob­a­bly add some ex­tras, but it’s re­ally too early to say what they will be.”

All he could say at this point in time is the dates for next year’s big event have al­ready been set. The 25th an­nual Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val will take place from Aug. 9-12, 2012.

A group of youth from Bri­gus have their photo taken with the parish priest dur­ing the town’s an­nual Blue­berry Fes­ti­val. From left: Alex Green, Shelby Bat­ten, Eva Wil­liamson, Rev. Fa­ther John Odzangba, parish priest at St. Pa­trick’s R.C. parish, Bri­gus; Mcken­zie McHugh, Mak­ile Hynes and Matthew Ma­honey. Fa­ther Odzangba is from Ghana, Africa.

Ann Marie Hartery re­laxes with daugh­ters, Clau­dia and Rachael by a pleas­ant stream that flows through Bri­gus.

Mary Lou and Martin Ryan of Hodge­wa­ter Line en­joy a waltz to the mu­sic from the main stage at the Bri­gus Blue­berry Fes­ti­val.

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