Bay Roberts seafood fes­ti­val con­tin­ues to grow

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

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.”

In­ter­est high

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY TOWN OF BAY ROBERTS FACE­BOOK

The crowds en­joys some mu­sic and grub dur­ing the chef’s seafood BBQ at the 2015 Songs, Stages and Seafood Fes­ti­val in Bay Roberts.

PHOTO COUR­TESY TOWN OF BAY ROBERTS FACE­BOOK

There were plenty of good treats to be had dur­ing last year’s Tou­tons, Tom Cods and Tunes food walk­ing tour.

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