Celebrating a History Full of Hard Work and Heart
This four day Exhibition pays tribute to one of the original farming industries in the area. Farming was never a huge industry in Newfoundland as most people were involved with either fishing or logging. Although many families grew vegetables and had livestock, it was used to feed the family and was rarely sold. In the early 19th century the government cleared land and subsidized livestock to encourage and support people with starting farms. Farms then began to appear throughout the Eastern Peninsula, including Eastport and Happy Adventure.
Eastport Peninsula is one of Newfoundland’s smaller Peninsulas but it makes up for its size in both passion and heart. The Eastport Peninsula starts at the edge of Terra Nova National Park and includes: Sandringham, St. Chad's, Burnside, Eastport, Happy Adventure, Sand's Cove and Salvage. The combined total population is about 1,535 and it’s only a ten to fifteen minute drive to get from one point of the peninsula to the other.
Volunteers run the entire festival. They put an extensive number of hours into planning and running all of the events. This sort of dedication shows the intensity and spirit the people here possess. The entire Eastern Peninsula is involved in some way. The extent of the support from within the community is reflected in the high attendance levels at all events as well as the fact that all of the entertainment was sold out well in advance. It was incredible to witness the large amount of passion, dedication and pride that everyone had for the place they call home.
The festival is easily accessible and there are signs everywhere informing you where all the events are located. Even someone such as myself, from out of town and with no sense of direction, would have no problem finding their way around throughout the duration of the festival.
Over the weekend, I stayed at The Inn at Happy Adventure; a beautiful new inn with five spacious bedrooms that all have private balconies overlooking a breathtaking view of the water. I was incredibly impressed to discover that a hot breakfast is included every morning, at the time of your choosing, in an elegant dining room with the same amazing view. The owners of the hotel are fantastic people and made me feel like a guest in their home rather than a customer in a hotel. When I returned at the end of each day, they asked me how my day was and made sure that every detail was taken care of.
The exhibition has something for everyone to enjoy. With a parade, craft fair, church service and a variety of cooking demonstrations, every day was full. All of the activities were very family oriented and there are a ton of activities designed just for kids, such as pumpkin carving and mini Olympics, which included sack races and pass the pumpkin. The firefighters challenge was made up of a course where the kids had to stop at points to put on firefighter boots, a jacket and a fire hose before carrying a bucket of water across the finish line. There was a soap box derby, where the kids raced in wooden cars. I was told that the first year they held the race they allowed kids to make their own cars, but many forgot to include breaks, so now they all use the same cars with all the proper parts. Instead of a traditional petting zoo where the animals are penned in, the animals could be found walking around the playground on leash, free for the children to pet or walk whenever they liked. Horse, donkey, goat and Newfoundland pony were among the invited guests.
One afternoon I decided to get away from all of the activities and took a walk to Sandy cove. I was walking along the road when I saw a set of wooden stairs beside a sign declaring it was the way to Sandy Cove beach. I walked down the stairs that winded their way through the thick pine forest, to be led to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The dark blue waves played tag along the soft powered sand, framed by the dark rocks of Newfoundland. If it hadn't been for the October chill, I would have thought I had just stepped out onto a tropical beach. I walked along the enticing beach while the waves kept the beat to the song of beauty that was all around me. What an amazingly peaceful escape in the middle of an exciting weekend.
Each night of the weekend held a different offering of entertainment; one night being dinner theatre, another being The Men of Country where a band of talented musicians ( Bob McDonald, Brian Way, Steve Powers, Dr. Sandy Morris, Craig Young, Scott Mansfield) played music from male country singers from the 1950's to the present day. Another night hosted Song, Scoff and Scuff, that started with a sing-a-long, followed by a Jiggs dinner, a traditional Newfoundland dish of salt beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnip and pease pudding, made with ingredients rich from the land. The night continued with a square dance performance and then the dance floor was open to all while the band played into the night. As a girl from Toronto, it was a wonderful peek into the life of a small rural town, where everyone knows and supports each other. I was welcomed to my table with open arms and was even invited to Thanksgiving supper the next night at one of the people's homes. They made me feel like a member of the community.
As I was pulling away from the Eastern Peninsula, I couldn't help but feel a little sad, I felt as though I was saying goodbye to my family. That is the thing about Newfoundland, the people welcome you with open arms and step right into your heart.
For more information on Eastport events and activities please visit http://www.eastport.ca