Bay Roberts seafood festival continues to grow
Ron Delaney likes his fish cakes simple and to the point.
The economic director with the Town of Bay Roberts likes them with a bit of fish, mixed with the traditional mixture of fried onion and potato. He recognizes that things like chopped chutney can be added to the mixture in an effort to add something different to the Newfoundland delicacy.
“I look for it to be as traditional as possible,” said Delaney. “We all grew up, most of us, with a nan and pop sort-of fish cake. That’s what I go for.”
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood feels the same way. When he bites into a fish cake, he wants plenty of tastes to hit his pallet. He wants to taste the fish, potato and onions in even portions.
For him, there’s nothing like a fried fish cake. Batter, he said, is reserved for pieces of codfish.
“Fish is the big thing. Make sure their cakes contain a sizeable amount of fish,” said Wood. “A little bit of seasoning always adds to it too.”
It’s those qualities and more that they’ll be looking for during the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Cake Championships being held in Bay Roberts as a part of the annual Songs, Stages and Seafood festival June 1-5. It’s a part of the Toutons, Tom Cods and Tunes food walking tour that finishes at the red stage in French’s Cove in Bay Roberts.
The event has become an integral piece of the Songs, Stages and Seafood Festival experience and is open to everyone.
Gearing up for its fourth year, the festival attracts some of the top chefs from the province and visitors the world-over for a fiveday celebration of this province’s culinary heritage.
“It’s a great project and it’s a great festival. It highlights Bay Roberts,” said Wood. “It focuses on seafood, the sea and fish, which has always been a big part of our history. I don’t think that can be underestimated and the value of that.”
The festival is a hot ticket item every year for the town. It gives a tip of its hat to the history Bay Roberts has with seafood and continues to grow. The signature events for 2016 sold out in 48 hours when they went on sale earlier this month.
“It helps the economy and it can help make a nice vacation,” said Delaney. “It’s a shoulder season event. It serves as a catapult into summer.
“When people come here, they may go to Bonavista or take a dodge up to Norris Point as well.”
Chefs who routinely make their mark on the festival are Roary MacPherson and Mark McCrowe, and other renowned provincial chefs.
“We’re building a first-class event and it’s become an attraction worldwide,” said Delaney.
A regional view
As the fourth edition rapidly approaches, Delaney recognizes that the festival is starting to out- grow some of its venues. To that end, Delaney can see it expanding to encompass the entire Baccalieu Trail. He can see events in Grates Cove, Carbonear, Brigus and everywhere in between.
“It should be regional in concept,” he said. “We’d like to invite other communities and other interested parties who would like to put off events around it.”
To go along with culinary workshops on preparing the various meals they’ll be provided with over the course of the festival, Bay Roberts is offering a musical component this year.
Fergus O’Byrne has come on board to offer a musical workshop for the younger people, which will culminate in a concert highlighting the work that they’ve done.
“It’s all to preserve our culture and our heritage,” said Delaney.
The crowds enjoys some music and grub during the chef’s seafood BBQ at the 2015 Songs, Stages and Seafood Festival in Bay Roberts.
There were plenty of good treats to be had during last year’s Toutons, Tom Cods and Tunes food walking tour.