Gotta tuft me moose, b’y!

Splashes of colour and dashes of mu­sic high­light fall fes­ti­val in Cow Head


So much to see, so much to do! Those words de­scribe the weekend of Oct. 3-6, when the first Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair pretty much took over the town of Cow Head.

Brows­ing at the brochure, folks might con­sider get­ting some ex­er­cise by par­tak­ing in the com­mu­nity walk, check­ing out the rug hook­ing and the quilt ex­hibit, or in­dulging in fine din­ing. The big ques­tion was, would they sup­port the more than thirty events planned for those four days? The Cow Head Con­ser­va­tion & Her­itage Com­mit­tee, who put to­gether this pack­age as a fes­ti­val of tra­di­tional skills, crafts, mu­sic and lo­cal cul­ture, was anx­ious to find out.

Even be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing on Thurs­day night, work­shops and demon­stra­tions were get­ting un­der­way. For ex­am­ple, a mat hook­ing demon­stra­tion at the mu­seum de­lighted a vis­i­tor as she tried her hand at it. As well, Denise Dol­liver was sta­tioned at the school in­volv­ing chil­dren in lum­ber­jack crafts such as pil­low mak­ing.

By 8 p.m. peo­ple had gath­ered at the Shal­low Bay Mo­tel and were en­ter­tained by lo­cal mu­si­cians while they awaited the open­ing of the fes­tiv­i­ties. As Cow Head Mu­seum Cu­ra­tor Glenda Reid Bavis said, “Plan­ning, gath­er­ing sup­port and invit­ing peo­ple to come is one thing; to see them here fill­ing the room is another.”

Cow Head Deputy Mayor Pa­trick Bavis wel­comed ev­ery­one, and then spe­cial guests were in­tro­duced. Tourism Min­is­ter Terry French called this area, “one of my favourite places in the prov­ince.” He went on to state that many small com­mu­ni­ties are sur­viv­ing be­cause of tourism.

MHA Jim Ben­nett con­curred that in­deed, tourism is boom­ing. Gros Morne Field Su­per­in­ten­dent Ge­off Han­cock said that the fall fest ex­pe­ri­ence would give folks a chance to “put their hands on pieces of his­tory” as they ven­tured from event to event. Also at­tend­ing were Christo­pher Mitchelmore, MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, and Mark Lamswood, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Go Western New­found­land.

A kitchen party hosted by singers/ac­tors Stephanie Payne and Rob Thorne, and fea­tur­ing lo­cal singer/ac­tor/mu­si­cian Daniel Payne, and also Derek Payne, Obe­diah Payne, Calvin Payne and Kevin Sim­monds, set a light-hearted mood for a dance group to strut the “old­fash­ioned eight” and for the audi- ence to tap their feet. The fall fest was well un­der way.

The next morn­ing, those who opted for moose tuft­ing (or were cu­ri­ous about it) gath­ered in a large room at the Shal­low Bay Mo­tel where Dun­can Chisholm was con­tin­u­ing with the sec­ond of a three­day workshop. Par­tic­i­pants were com­pos­ing pic­tures con­structed largely from moose hairs at­tached to a black vel­vet back­ground. Why did they choose moose tuft­ing?

“I’ve been want­ing to do this for years, and this is my first op­por­tu­nity,” stated Dolores An­der­son from Glen­burnie.

Molly White, a rug hooker from Woody Point, said she wanted to try a new medium. While vis­it­ing Yel­lowknife, Adrian Payne from Cow Head came across moose tuft­ing and wel­comed the chance to try it dur­ing the Craft Fair.

Artist Shawn McNiven, who di­vides her time be­tween Cow Head and Que­bec, be­lieves this is a unique tra­di­tion that peo­ple should pass on.

Chisholm, now liv­ing in Pasadena, learned the art of moose tuft­ing from a woman in Fort MacPher­son, and has taught the con­cept in sev­eral places. Over three days the “stu­dents” make two pic­tures framed in black and en­closed with glass. There is a cost for the course, but par­tic­i­pants thought it well worth it, for the fin­ished prod­uct is stun­ning.

A fam­ily vis­it­ing from BC came in for a look, then stayed in Cow Head for two days, tak­ing in as many events as they could. “We don’t want to leave!” one of them ex­claimed hap­pily.

If you strolled across the road to the Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing, you’d find a small group en­grossed in tra­di­tional bas­ket weav­ing. In­struc­tor Helga Gil­lard of Main Brook said that weav­ing is an an­cient art, and that ev­ery con­ti­nent has a his­tory of weav­ing in some form. Helga was work­ing with her daugh­ter, Deirdre Gil­lard-Rowl­ings, the ac­tor who played Nurse Myra Ben­nett in Gros Morne The­atre Fes­ti­val’s highly suc­cess­ful per­for­mances of Tempt­ing Prov­i­dence. Also learn­ing the craft was Glenda Reid Bavis. In our part of the world, the Beothuck made birch bark bas­kets and in Labrador bas­kets were made from sea­grass or spruce roots. To­day, the three women were con­struct­ing two dif­fer­ent bas­kets from palm rat­tan.

“Th­ese are be­gin­ner’s mar­ket bas­kets,” ex­plained Helga, “made us­ing tra­di­tional skills.” Through the door came the B.C. visi­tors, happy to dis­cover another lo­cal workshop.

While the weather wasn’t pleas­ant enough for the bird watch­ing tour of Shal­low Bay, Parks Canada per­son­nel Dar­roch Whi­taker and Danny Ma­jor held a very in­for­ma­tive talk on lo­cal birds, and, if you brought your socks to the Dr. Henry N. Payne Mu­seum, Mary Payne and An­nie Reid could teach you how to darn them prop­erly!

Dur­ing such an in­ten­sive day, folks tend to get hun­gry, and that was no prob­lem. At the Clover Farm Mar­ket over noon hour, you could munch on a hot dog or ham­burger for a dona­tion, and for sup­per there was a great feast at St. Mary the Vir­gin - a moose sup­per! Each dish was la­belled: you could par­take of moose & juice, gar­lic moose, moose meat­balls, fried moose with onions, moose and po­tato cakes, moose stew; and the list went on.

Dur­ing the meal, Rachel Payne demon­strated how to make po­tato cakes, and when they were cooked, folks grabbed them up like hot cakes - which they re­ally were.

Have you won­dered about out is­land’s plants, the names of them, which are edi­ble, which are poi­sonous? Michael Burzyn­ski and Anne Marceau of Parks Canada have ex­per­tise in this field and made a slide show pre­sen­ta­tion. Another great learn­ing op­por­tu­nity, com­pleted by a demon­stra­tion of birch sap wine mak­ing by Pa­trick Bavis.

The sec­ond day ended with a night of mu­sic by Peter Ja­cobs, and then karaoke at the Shal­low Bay.

The next day, Satur­day, peo­ple showed up for break­fast spon­sored by the War Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee, then had a choice of sev­eral things to do. That in­cluded a hik­ing tour of Cow Head Penin­sula, tra­di­tional New­found­land mu­sic at the mu­seum, the con­tin­u­a­tion of moose tuft­ing, and kite mak­ing for chil­dren.

One high­light was an ex­hibit at the town hall. Walk­ing through the door, visi­tors were con­fronted by masses of bright, colour­ful quilts dis­played on ta­bles, hang­ing from walls and laid across chairs. Trudy Barry of Port aux Choix pre­sented her “at­tic win­dow” quilt. As you looked through each “win­dow” you could see hu­mor­ous scenes of fish­ing and moose hunt­ing. Quite a unique idea! “This is for my son,” Trudy stated. Trudy and her mother Gwen Crocker, and Swansetta Rum­bolt, were asked by Nancy Pin­sent to as­sem­ble this col­lec­tion, some of which would go on sale at the next day’s craft fair. “We’ve had such a mar­vel­lous turnout of peo­ple want­ing to see the quilts,” Pin­sent added, very pleased. Two ladies who had com­pleted one of their moose tuft­ing projects, showed them to those at the quilt­ing ex­hibit. They were so glad they had done the course.

Want to go fly a kite? Michael Burzyn­ski showed folks how to make a sim­ple kite at the church hall. Un­for­tu­nately, the wind just wouldn’t blow hard enough to keep the kites soar­ing.

Who is there bet­ter to fid­dle with than Daniel Payne? Monica MacPher­son from Cow Head and young Sarah White of Port aux Choix showed up for Daniels’ workshop of ba­sic tech­niques at the Ware­house The­atre. They started with a tune up, then Daniel demon­strated the best way for the player’s hands to hold the bow. Sarah has some back­ground as a fid­dle player and Monica is new at it.

Satur­day night pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for fine din­ing with chef Justin Ge­orge and Lynn Da­ley and staff, and a silent auc­tion. The evening ended on a high note as Daniel Payne and Friends hosted a mu­si­cal soiree at the the­atre, while oth­ers sang their hearts out at the karaoke evening at the Shal­low Bay.

Sun­day was the cul­mi­na­tion of the weekend ac­tiv­i­ties, the highly an­tic­i­pated craft fair. It was the sev­enth year for this par­tic­u­lar event in Cow Head. Two large rooms of the mo­tel were filled with ar­ti­sans and shop­pers. It was the per­fect place to buy that spe­cial gift for a birth­day or Christ­mas or to get some­thing for your­self. From mum­mers of all ma­te­ri­als and sizes, to paint­ings, jew­ellery, knit­ted hats, em­broi­dered tow­els, and those colour­ful quilts, and so much more, this was a shop­per’s par­adise. At the same time, a craft project for kids was un­der­way, as was a fly ty­ing demon­stra­tion by Garry Shears, while a pho­tog­ra­pher was stand­ing by to take your pic­ture, and those at the Gold Re­fin­ery would eval­u­ate your bro­ken jew­ellery and give you cash for it.

The fi­nal day was made com­plete at the Angli­can Church with a gospel con­cert by “In­fin­itely More,” the hus­band and wife duo of Ali­son Lynn and Ger­ald Flemming. The cou­ple spent three years in Nashville writ­ing many songs, some of which they per­formed for the en­tranced au­di­ence here. Lynn’s fa­ther, the Rev­erend Hol­lis His­cock, min­is­tered at this church years ago. Lynn was happy that this, their fif­teenth and last show is thir­teen days, ended in the right place.

How do you gauge the suc­cess of a project such as a four day fair in a small town? Con­sid­er­ing the large crowds that turned out at events such as the of­fi­cial open­ing and the church sup­per and the Sun­day craft sale; the will­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of the spon­sors, ar­ti­sans, com­mu­nity groups, etc.; the pos­i­tive com­ments, the smiles and in­ter­est in the tra­di­tional crafts and mu­sic and cul­ture that could eas­ily be seen; the com­radery that blos­somed and the mem­o­ries that were made, the Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair achieved its goals. The sur­veys peo­ple filled out also at­tested to this.

Carol Payne, Chair of the com­mit­tee, said, “Ev­ery­one is so pleased by the amaz­ing sup­port from the peo­ple here and from other com­mu­ni­ties. We couldn’t func­tion with­out them.”

Glenda Reid Bavis stated, “Just as liv­ing in Gros Morne Na­tional Park is spec­tac­u­lar, so was this whole weekend. We could not have en­vi­sioned the amaz­ing suc­cess of this event. We es­pe­cially thank Denise White from IBRD and Jeff Or­gan from Cre­ative Gros Morne for their help.”

Bavis is quick to point out that peo­ple are al­ready sign­ing up for next year’s moose tuft­ing.

Pho­tos by Karen Ben­nett

Mu­si­cians Ode­diah Payne, Derek Payne, Daniel Payne and Calvin Payne en­ter­tained at the open­ing of the Fall Fest and Craft Fair in Cow Head. Helga Gil­lard dis­plays the types of bas­kets made at her workshop dur­ing the Fall Fest in Cow Head.

LEFT: As folks were eat­ing their moose sup­pers at the Angli­can Church, Rachel Payne demon­strated how to make po­tato cakes, which didn’t last long af­ter they were baked.

Molly White and Dolores An­der­son were so happy with their moose tuft­ing pic­tures, some­thing beau­ti­ful to dis­play on their walls at home.

Photo by Karen Ben­nett

A vis­i­tor to the Fall Fest in Cow Head tried her hand at rug hook­ing at the town’s mu­seum.

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