Blueberry Fes­ti­val set for 26th year

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NICHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

If it isn’t broke, why fix it? That is the mes­sage be­ing given by Bri­gus Blueberry Fes­ti­val chair­man By­ron Rod­way ahead of the 26th run­ning of the pop­u­lar four day fes­ti­val.

“What we’re do­ing is work­ing,” he said. “Be­cause it’s worked so well in the past, there is no need to change it.”

Where it was once more of a gar­den party event, the Blueberry Fes­ti­val now at­tracts tourists from around the prov­ince and even other parts of Canada.

It still runs on the sec­ond week­end of Au­gust, with this year fall­ing on Aug. 8-11.

The town, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 750, will see some 13,000 to 15,000 pa­trons stroll through the his­toric streets.

The more the mer­rier for fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers.

“The beauty of this is that it’s new money for the Town of Bri­gus,” said Rod­way.

The Blueberry Fes­ti­val serves to show off the many splen­dors of Bri­gus. Held in the cen­tre of town, the fes­ti­val al­lows tourists and res­i­dents alike the op­por­tu­nity to view the rock walls, Wil­cox Gar­dens and the vin­tage look that Bri­gus of­fers.

“(The fes­ti­val) show­cases the town,” said Rod­way, who has been chair­per­son of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee for 23 years and in­volved since the be­gin­ning. “I tell peo­ple to come back and have a look when it is not so busy.”

The densely packed houses of the Town Cen­tre of­fer a glimpse to an ear­lier time for non-res­i­dents.

Most or­ga­niz­ers look for wide-open spa­ces on the edge of a com­mu­nity but would have trou­ble recre­at­ing the at­mos­phere that the Blueberry Fes­ti­val does.

Sure, hav­ing it in a small place may cause lo­gis­ti­cal headaches for Rod­way and the Blueberry Fes­ti­val Com­mit­tee, but the ex­pe­ri­ence is much more greater be­cause of the de­ci­sion to hold it in the mid­dle of town.

“We just have to en­sure there are enough shut­tle busses run­ning,” said Rod­way.

Rod­way does not want the fes­ti­val to fo­cus only on about “loud mu­sic and sell­ing spir­its.”

“I don’t want that to hap­pen here,” he said.

While the fes­ti­val does sell beer and has great mu­si­cal acts, the buck does not stop there.

There are many other op­tions avail­able such as the folk fes­ti­val, var­i­ous games of skill and chance, along with the Missed Blueberry Pageant, a pa­rade and craft stalls.

This year’s mu­si­cal acts in­clude Fitz & Wise­man on Fri­day night, and St. John’s act Freshly Squeezed on Satur­day night.

Also fea­tured at the event will be din­ner theatres and an awe-in­spir­ing fire­works dis­play.

One thing Rod­way is proud to keep go­ing is the ec­u­meni­cal ser­vice on the Sun­day morn­ing.

In­ter­est is still strong in the fes­ti­val as Rod­way fielded some 41 re­quests from new ven­dors to be­come a part of the event, but he only had room for six.

“That speaks to the pop­u­lar­ity of the event,” he said. “Ev­ery­one wants to be here.”

For full de­tails of the 26th an­nual Blueberry Fes­ti­val, please see our Blueberry Book in Aug. 6 print edi­tion of The Com­pass.

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