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