Sun shines on Brigus Blueberry Festival
Committee looks forward to silver anniversary in 2012
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.