The Queens County Seafest gets underway on Friday, and soon after shark, mackerel and ground fishermen will head out to sea.
This year’s festivities will see a few changed, said committee co-chair Rhonda Perry, but many of the old favourties returning.
New this year is the “land lubbers packages”, for those who want to get in on the draws and swag bag the fishermen get but aren’t interested in going out on a boat. The bags are filled with coupons and weekend specials from businesses around the community, plus SeaFest merchandise and other shark derby items.
Most boats will be going out in the early morning hours of the day, but it’s the afternoon where all the excitement is anyway. From 2-5 p.m. on Saturday and 2-4 p.m. Sunday, the sharks will be weighed to see who can bring in the biggest one.
As the sharks are hauled onto land, a team from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography will be right there on the docks taking stock of the catch. Once the researchers have finished, Mike Cotter, who turns the sharks into meal for his business, will pick up the fish.
SeaFest is more than just a fishing derby though. There’s lots for families to do too.
The annual children’s day will be back on Saturday, but this time many of the events are now free of charge. Falling in the free category is the bouncy tent, face painting, hair painting, helium balloons, and ice cream.
There will be plenty of games to play too, all of which cost a quarter or two and centered around the shark theme.
Kendra Shot, co-chair with Perry, says they want to give families something inexpensive to do, and get them out to the park.
“That’s why we want to do the children’s day like that,” she says. “This way a family can enjoy the festival, and have some free (entertainment).”
Entertainment is always a key part of SeaFest, and this year the organizers have brought in two headline acts. Witchitaw will take to the stage at 11 p.m. on Friday night, while The Stogies are up at the same time on Saturday night.
New this year at the entertainment stage is a open mic afternoon, going from 1 – 4:30 p.m. Any band or individual can come up and play a few songs, and there is no charge to take the stage.
To get into the entertainment tent is $3 per day or $5 for a bracelet that is good for the entire weekend.
“We’re trying to make it as inexpensive as we can for the people,” says Perry.
Tickets for the Row for Charity are on sale by any member of the row for charity, or at the marina during Seafest. The top prize is $500 cash, and the rowing starts at 2 p.m.
The money raised by the ticket sales goes towards the top three teams’ charity of choice, split 50, 30 and 20 per cent for first, second and third.
As always there will be a shuttle from the parking lot to the marina, but this year the committee has added extra drop off points. Now people can be dropped off by the market, the park or by the marina. The shuttle will also take people from the park to the marina. Perry says they added the extra drop off points by request from some of the senior’s and people with mobility issues.
SeaFest is put together all by volunteers, spearheaded by a seven member committee this year. It takes a lot of volunteers to make the festival happen says Perry, with 49 volunteers just to put on the children’s day activities.
To make the festival a success, she says it takes a lot of sponsors and community groups take part. This year though Perry says they’ve had a great response from the sponsors, and the community groups are happy to pitch in.
The junior curlers are just one group taking part, though they’ll be doing something most people don’t think about once the festival is over. They’ll be out scouring the park and the marina, tidying up things once the part is over. In exchange, they get to keep all the refundables collected from the weekend to use for their programs.
The festival organizers have also revamped their web presence, overhauling the website with better information, contests and a social media presence. They have also launched online registration for the fishermen, to make is easier for them to sign up for the derby.
Seafest can be found at www.queenscountyseafest.com