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OICKLE: Volunteers make the festival world go round

The warm weather is here to stay (for now) and so is the South Shore’s list of summer and fall festivals. One festival on this year’s radar is the Shelburne Kayak Festival Aug. 17-19.
The warm weather is here to stay (for now) and so is the South Shore’s list of summer and fall festivals. One festival on this year’s radar is the Shelburne Kayak Festival Aug. 17-19. - Kathy Johnson

The View From Here

With summer now upon us, the festival season here on the South Shore is in full swing.

The region serves up a long and eclectic menu of festivals based on a variety of themes that range from promoting the area’s heritage and traditional industries, to taping into the province’s ever growing food and beverage scene, to those that take advantage of the region’s natural beauty and pristine environment.

The themes are only as limited as one’s imaginations. Just take a look at the festivals that will be held on the South Shore in the coming months:

  • July 4-16: Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts, Peggy’s Cove
  • July 14-15: Lunenburg Food and Craft Festival, Lunenburg
  • July 14-15: Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, Journey Back To Birchtown, Birchtown
  • July 20-22: Shelburne Founders’ Days, Shelburne
  • July 21-22: Nova Scotia Marathon, Barrington
  • July 24-29: South Shore Exhibition, Bridgewater
  • July 28: Harmony Bazaar, Festival of Women & Song, Lockeport
  • Aug. 3-5: Shag Harbour UFO Conference, Barrington
  • Aug. 9-12: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg
  • Aug. 10-12: Lockeport Sea Derby, Lockeport
  • Aug. 7-11: Shelburne County Exhibition, Shelburne
  • Aug. 11: Cape Days, Cape Sable Island
  • Aug. 15-18: Chester Race Week, Chester
  • Aug. 16-19: Barrington Municipal Exhibition, Barrington
  • Aug. 16-19: Hank Snow Tribute, Liverpool
  • Aug. 17-19: Shelburne Kayak Festival, Shelburne
  • Aug. 25-26: Canadian National Axe Throwing Championships, Liverpool
  • Aug. 24-26: East Coast Albacore Championships, Shelburne
  • Sept. 15-16: Whirligig and Weathervane Festival, Shelburne
  • Sept. 18-22: Queens County Fair, Caledonia
  • Sept. 28-30: Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival, Mahone Bay
  • Oct. 1-5: Lockie the Lobster Knitting Festival, Lockport
  • Oct. 18-21: Liverpool International Theatre Festival, Liverpool
  • Nov. 17: South Shore Christmas Crawl
  • Feb. 1-18: South Shore Lobster Crawl

While that is definitely not a complete inventory of all the exciting events that will be held in the regions over the next six months (and even into 2019), you have to admit, it is an impressive list. Furthermore, the list does not include events that have already been held this year, such as the inaugural South Shore Lobster Crawl held in February, Shelburne County Lobster Festival in early June and Liverpool Privateer Days held during the last weekend of June.

These festivals are not only an integral component of the South Shore Tourism industry through which thousands of dollars are injected into the local economy, these events also build pride and enthusiasm both within and for our communities. They also promote our communities outside our region and, in some cases, around the world.

Festivals become a rallying point within the community, around which we can focus all our positive energy to help organize the events and also to participate in them and enjoy the fun, food, fellowship and all the frivolity associated with these summertime activities. Is there anything better than that? I think not.

But these festivals don’t happen by magic. They are not a government-mandated or funded activity. These events don’t just spring up out of the ground or pop into existence from mid-air. No, indeed, they do not.

These events are the results of countless hours of planning, organizing, fundraising and plotting by an army of volunteers who share a common vision of bringing people together for a few days of celebration.

I was reminded of this fact a few weekends ago as I enjoyed Privateer Days, the summer’s flagship event in Liverpool and one of the region’s first major festivals. While strolling through the park, taking in all the excitement and observing the many visitors and locals taking part in the three days’ worth of events, I thought of all the planning and organizing that went into executing the festival.

It’s staggering, really, to think of all the people required to make these events happen. And while impressive, I am aware that this phenomenon is not unique to Liverpool or to Privateer Days. I will remind you of the list I presented earlier in this column. It proves my point.

In truth, every festival, whether it is a one-day fair, a three-day event or a weeklong marathon requires the hard work, dedication, enthusiasm, energy, skills and commitment of volunteers. Realistically, there is just no way that any of these events would ever happen without volunteers as no level of government or any business could provide the necessary funds required to pay people to pull off such a long list. These things just wouldn’t happen.

It’s obvious that we should thank all those volunteers who work tirelessly for months and sometimes year round, to make these events happen. Our communities are the better because of their efforts, or at least that’s the view from here.

Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.

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