Majumder’s man­ner

Gath­er­ing Tour will take show on the road

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY CORY HUR­LEY

New­found­land and Labrador’s Shaun Majumder has been putting on quite a show with his an­nual event The Gath­er­ing in Burling­ton.

Years ago, Shaun Majumder threw his arms open to the peo­ple of Burling­ton and an­nounced he was “com­ing ‘ome,” and ever since he has worked hard to put his small town on the map.

With that mis­sion fairly ef­fec­tively ac­com­plished — each year hun­dreds of peo­ple have been com­ing to The Gath­er­ing and fur­ther­ing Majumder’s “‘Ome” vi­sion through the fes­ti­val and its cor­re­spond­ing events — the co­me­dian con­tin­ues to grow and evolve his plan to make Burling­ton a sig­nif­i­cant tourism des­ti­na­tion on the Baie Verte Penin­sula.

In 2013 and 2014, Majumder took his quest to de­velop this tourism po­ten­tial to main­stream tele­vi­sion on the se­ries Majumder Manor. With then­fi­ancée Shelby Feener, busi­ness part­ners, and many lo­cals by his side, the show high­lighted the good and the bad of his quest to build Majumder Manor and vi­tal­ize the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try.

‘Ome Sweet ‘Ome now in­cludes re­mote lux­ury glamp­ing tents and guest pod. The ‘ Ome Fry is a chip van that op­er­ates lo­cally dur­ing the sum­mer. Thus far, the This Hour has 22 Min­utes star and his ven­tures have in­deed pro­vided an eco­nomic in­flux to small busi­nesses in the com­mu­nity.

The evo­lu­tion of The Gath­er­ing and ‘ Ome Sweet ‘ Ome con­tin­ues — some­thing Majumder ac­cepts by de­sign. If some­thing works, don’t fix it. If some­thing needs fix­ing or im­prov­ing, do it.

In 2017, Majumder wel­comes the in­au­gu­ral Gath­er­ing Tour. In what is hoped to be the first of many, the fes­ti­val of fire, food and mu­sic is go­ing on the road. Fea­tur­ing acts from this year’s fes­ti­val in Burling­ton from Aug. 24-26, the tour in­cludes stops in St. John’s, Gan­der, Cor­ner Brook and Grand Falls-Wind­sor.

“The idea be­hind the tour is even­tu­ally, we want to share what we are do­ing in Burling­ton with ev­ery­body all over the prov­ince,” Majumder said. “One of the ways of start­ing that process is tak­ing the fes­ti­val we do here in Burling­ton and bring­ing it on the road.”

The in­ter­est and pre-event ticket sales have been en­cour­ag­ing, ac­cord­ing to the co­me­dian. Majumder prom­ises the usual blend of food, mu­sic and com­edy, and says there will likely be those im­promptu guests and spur- of- the- mo- ment sur­prises his events have be­come known for in­ter­twined with sched­uled line­ups.

The fifth an­nual Gath­er­ing will again see a cou­ple of thou­sand peo­ple bring Burling­ton to its max­i­mum ca­pac­ity for what has be­come as much a culi­nary fes­ti­val as a dis­play of mu­si­cal and comedic en­ter­tain­ment.

Majumder says he is happy with the pro­gres­sion of the event and his long-term strate­gic plan.

“I think it is now one of the most unique fes­ti­vals on the is­land, for a few rea­sons,” he said. “I think the fact that it is not a big fes­ti­val is a re­ally im­por­tant piece. I like that it is spread out be­tween mu­sic, chefs and com­edy be­cause it is a gath­er­ing of peo­ple who come to­gether, meet new peo­ple, and have so much fun.”

Sim­ple and unique

Its sim­plis­tic na­ture is an as­set Majumder does not want to lose. While con­tin­u­ing to evolve, it is never ex­pected to be some­thing it is not. The unique­ness of chef hikes and shed crawls will con­tinue to be the sta­ple of the event, ac­cord­ing to its cre­ator.

This year’s chef hikes will fea­ture a Latin fla­vor with chefs Elia Her­rera of Toronto and Luis Clavel of Hal­i­fax.

Co­me­di­ans mak­ing an ap- pear­ance will in­clude Nigel Lawrence, Matt Wright, and This Hour has 22 Min­utes’ new­est cast mem­ber, Trent McClel­lan of Cor­ner Brook.

Chef Jeremy Charles of Ray­mond’s Res­tau­rant will lead this year’s Brook Pic­nic. Mu­si­cian Sher­man Downey will be back to lead the Shed Crawl. An­other new event this year is the Side Show, which will fea­ture The Once at a se­cret lo­ca­tion to be re­vealed at the fes­ti­val.

The main Gath­er­ing grounds will again be filled with food, led by head chef Roary MacPher­son, and var­i­ous en­ter­tain­ers. Bud Davidge of Si­mani will be per­form­ing at this year’s fes­ti­val, and Majumder said “Mu­sic and Friends” will be this year’s theme song — and the plan is to cre­ate a “We Are the World” ver­sion of the song with this year’s mu­si­cians.

“We want to keep go­ing on this course, and maybe ev­ery year add a new lit­tle piece here and there,” Majumder said.

The Gath­er­ing Tour is a big step in that evo­lu­tion. This year, lo­ca­tions will be along the Trans-Canada High­way (TCH), but Majumder en­vi­sions get­ting deeper into ru­ral ar­eas in the years to come.

“I want to go to the smaller places,” he said. “I want to get off the TCH and go down to tiny places. Where that will be, we don’t know, but we are al­ways tak­ing sug­ges­tions as to why we should come to your town.”

This fes­ti­val and his “el­e­gant ver­sion of camp­ing for sissies,” as Majumder likes to call it, could hap­pen in any com­mu­nity through­out the prov­ince, he said. His vi­sion of the tour is to open peo­ple’s eyes to that.

“It’s about ru­ral sus­tain­abil­ity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in an area like this,” he said. “If we can get a model that works, maybe we can con­sult and bring this model to other com­mu­ni­ties all over the is­land so they can take con­trol of their des­tiny and not have to wait around for gov­ern­ment to give money for sub­si­dies for projects and what­not.”

Just a way for ‘ome to al­ways be ‘ ome for ev­ery­body, no mat­ter where that is.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SABRE DANE / THE GATH­ER­ING

Shaun Majumder lead­ing an ex­cur­sion dur­ing The Gath­er­ing 2016 in Burling­ton.

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