The fact that festivals are typically sponsored by a local Chamber of Commerce tells one that that the 120 "festivals" recorded at www.nova Scotia,com/festivals has commercial intent rather than following the prime definition as "a day or period of celebration, typically a religious commemoration." Many Nova Scotian communities are in a financial pit communities. You can read all about that unfortunate situation at http://www.novascotia.ca/dma/finance/indicator/fci.asp.
The County of Lunenburg's municipality and communities are not there yet, but they need business and new citizens to stay solvent.
Everyone is struggling to be unique, thus we have art, music, ethnic, comedy, apple blossom, seafood, kitchen, patriotic, iron men, highland, treasure hunt, motoring, women's, strong drink, UFO, dance, canoe, folk, film, automobile, jack o'lantern and craft festivals. The Mahone Bay Chamber is only claiming sponsorship of three festivals this year. That was also the case last year, but they also gave last minute support to the Mahone Bay Pirate Festival & Regatta.
Ruth and I lived in Mahone Bay for two-and-a-half years, and plan to eventually return there when the hills of First South and Lunenburg Town get the better of us, and of course, the befinde willing! We are predisposed to like this community which is a better final retirement town on many counts, the main advantage being that the necessities are all available within easy walking distance. Unfortunately, like Lunenburg they have a shrinking business district and free entertainment is decidedly not as good as was once the case. From our point of view, the best that remains from days past is their annual "Great Scarecrow Festival & Antique Fair."
An attempt was made to establish a Mussel Festival at Mahone Bay. I think there was something of this sort on the beach near Hubbards back at the beginning of time. Then in 2007 it was removed to Indian Point a little south east of Mahone Bay. It remained there for second summer, the focus being the Indian Point Hall. I recall that the festival came to our village in 2010, but the greatest action took place the following year when most restaurants added this seafood to their menu. At the Biscuit Eater Cafe, one of the co-owners of the time demonstrated cooking mussels in the shell using an open fire. At the Indian Point processing plant (bottom left) the owner explained how mussels were brought to maturity in ocean-based locations. That festival failed when tunicates began invading breeding sites, smothering this sea-food product in a gelatinous mass. Today, our local mussel farms distribute products from places not yet endangered.
In the past, I have suggested that Lunenburg merchants pay attention to the great festivals mounted by Mahone Bay citizens, with quite a bit of help from CFAs. They were invariably luke warm to "stealing ideas" from a neighbour. I have experienced a lot of theft of my ideas and images and consider this a usual practice. Mahone Bay was the site of a "Wooden Boat Festival" for a quarter century, but back in the last years of operation the name was changed to "Classic Boat Festival" thus admitting plastic moulded hulls to the fraternity. Even with the name change this was a very big quasi-commercial venture, which had a great deal of associated free entertainment including a giant summer parade with several marching bands and many floats. The launch of a dory using a team of oxen and merchandise and information tents were all traditional features. The big crowd pleaser was sponsored by Castle Building Supply, which contributed tools and plywood to the annual "Fast & Furious Race." The boats were constructed on site within three hours and then raced with humourous results including accidental collisions and sabotage.
There were also lots and lots of boat races, harbour-based small boats, and ocean-going tall ships. The absolutely original Bluenose II stood offshore in deep water. The pre-meditated explosion of the 1812 US warship Teazer in the Bay, not the harbour as the locals sometimes pretend is still reenacted, but reenactors are not as thick on the ground. Johnny Depp and partner showed up as this event closed and these two may have been the prototype for the Mahone Bay pirates theatrical. Historically, nothing much happened this far inland. Local merchants never quite liked the appearance of outside merchants for three days purveying gift merchandise for three to five days every year, and snooty plastic-boat yacht people had their differences with wooden boats and iron men. Thus, a great event was terminated for being over budget and two years late the Town of Lunenburg recreated the event, successfully in the first year, not so much after that.
.Initially the Father Christmas Festival was a late November, early December, attempt to repeat the commercial success of the Scarecrow Festival. While there is not much snow at that time it is usual to be plagued with rain and high winds, which is why the event was set to embrace two weekends. From day one that meant that the numerous figures scattered about town were at risk and businessmen found it necessary to wrap their figurines in plastic a number of times during the display period.
There were some clever artist-craftsmen doing their stuff and stuffing many Father and a few Mother Christmas dummies in the early days. Trouble was, they all aged and the figurines also saw a lot of weather wear. Each year after they looked more and more like seed bags. To help prevent this degradation they were brought indoors by businessmen, losing a lot of curb appeal in the process.
Cartoonist Ronald Searle penned in "V&A, always on the go." The local Vickie and her husband were dynamos but they must be wearing a bit thin at this dance. With those Santa Claus stand-ins reduced, she took her "Enchanted Village" at her business, "Suttles & Seawinds" indoors in an adjacent barn and transformed it into a very magical second-floor Christmas diorama. A small admission was charged but crafts and food merchants helped finance this operation on two weekends by purchasing space downstairs. No a bad show, but it had the appearance in 2014 of having less input from this talented mistress of ceremonies. The wagon tours are still operative, but the little that remains is more commercial than used to be the case. "Festivus" is, as you know, a parody secular holiday celebrated on December 23, intended to serve as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Yule season. I don't know if the "good queen" would be amused at this idea.
Ruth and I are surrounded by the goods accumulated from two formerly independent households. While we did buy at the most recent Suttles & Seawinds Market, we are not good and loyal consumers when it comes to new goods. Thus the Scarecrow Festival in 2014 started for us in early October at the Eclectic Garage across Main Street from that little place with the red roof, which Allison and Cathryn rented while visiting us some time ago when we lived in Mahone Bay.
It is still fun to shop, inexpensively, when you have no real need.
The Eclectic Garage started life as an automobile service station but is now an antique shop which has a very diverse offering. The owners are not dependent on this place for income and actually seem to have added some of their stock in aid of the local heritage society which arranges this "yard sale."
Eclecticism reigned here as well.
This year some new creations appeared on the streets, and paint jobs on old figurines were renewed.
Ruth is always keen when it comes to fabrics.
We parked and went rambling. These aliens were seen near the Lutheran Church on Edgewater Street.
Prizes have been awards for new figurines in several categories, so this results in a growing population of "scarecrows."
Art Deco people.
We then viewed the Anglican Hall antiques.
Marilyn and her pumpkins have been a fixture for years at JoAnn's Deli.
Definitely new and different.
Surly a prize winner?
Next door on Edgewater, "The Lollipop KIds."
It takes all kinds?
We left Edgewater at this juncture for South Main Street. This was at the Anney River bridge with the tea house in the background.
The only pumpkin head seen.
At the post office on Main.
The jewellry store.
The dental clinic.
British Royalty always flies in to attend this event.
A private yard sale.
The Legion Hall. We tavelled from here up the hill to the form school, now rebranded as Mahone Bay Centre.
But first, a peek at the antique show in the Legion Hall. As I am of an age corresponding with most antiques there is rarely anything in these places which seems unique or worth having.
This was a new exhibit.
We have a very small home so any additional furniture is redundant.
So that was the day that was. First fall leaves seen here. We will be back in 2015.