The blue­ber­ries have it

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - Ni­cholas Mercer

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 expe- ri­ence 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 minifes­ti­val 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 nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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