Special to The Pilot
LEWISPORTE – From karaoke to kite flying; from kayaking to a good old-fashioned kitchen party, young and old alike are bound to find something to tickle their fancy during the Mussel Bed Soiree and Come Home Year Celebrations taking place in Lewisporte Aug. 3-13.
One of the highlights of the 26th annual soiree is an all-age Concert in the Park which takes place Aug. 11 at the Lewisporte soccer pitch and features Shanneyganock, Signal Hill, the Head Pins, Big Sugar and Lou Gramm – an American rock singer and songwriter best known as lead vocalist of the rock band Foreigner.
“We try to cater to people of all ages. We like to include Newfoundland music and some classic rock and also something for the younger ages,” said the Town of Lewisporte’s director of recreation and tourism, Derek Bennett.
Other festival events include a gospel concert, youth dance, children’s story-time, boat parade of lights, ecumenical services, socials for seniors and a fantastic fireworks display. A hearty helping of good old-fashioned Newfoundland grub will also be dished out at some events.
Mr. Bennett said upwards to 14,000 people attend the soiree.
The place will be booming, he said.
“All the accommodations get booked, the restaurants are busy, the service groups are preparing meals and fundraising, the gas stations are busy. So the whole community benefits from it.”
Much of the success of the 11-day festival rests on the shoulders of the community volunteers, he said.
“If we had to pay staff to do what work needs to be done it just wouldn’t be feasible so the success is largely because of the many volunteers we have working day and night organizing the events then working throughout the festival making sure things run smoothly.”
Mr. Bennett also throws accolades to the festival’s corporate sponsors. Without them, he said, the soiree would not be possible.
“The community and the region support the festival which allows us to offer many of the events free-of-charge but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost us to put off the events which is where our generous sponsors come in,” he says.
Come Home Year committee chair Brian Hooper said the celebrations kick off Aug. 3 with several events including an adult only kitchen party at the Lewisporte stadium featuring local talent.
The fun continues on Aug. 4, he said, with an official meet-and-greet also taking place at the stadium.
The meet-and-greet is a perfect time for those living in the area as well as those visiting for the festival to get together, he said.
“We’ve also got two great acts coming in to do some stand-up comedy. We think that’s certainly going to be a highlight as well,” Mr. Hooper said.
In an effort to leave a lasting memorial to the 2012 celebrations, the Come Home Year committee has overseen the construction of a new walking/running track at the soccer pitch. The project was made possible by a $60,000 donation from MolsonCoors.
“We’re tying in the grand opening of the track with a community walk parade leaving from the mall and coming through town proceeding towards the soccer field and a walk around the track,” Mr. Hooper said of the event that takes place on Aug 8.
Mr. Hooper said his committee has been working closely with the Mussel Bed Soiree Committee in order to combine both events. It’s the best way to go, he said.
“We wanted to do some Come Home Year events separate from the Mussel Bed events but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to do them at different times so we kept the dates running one into the other.”
Having the two committees work together, he said, means both committees are co-hosting several of the events.
The soiree ends Aug. 13 with a family fun day where hundreds of children leave the soccer pitch with smiles on their faces and hands filled with goodies in their pockets.
“We’re finding that people not only from the Lewisporte area but also from the Central region of the province come out to participate in the fun day,” Mr. Bennett said.
For more information on the soiree visit www.musselbedsoiree.com