Trails, tails and tunes

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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West coast festival hits the five-year mark; ‘getting larger and more popular’

The view of Bonne Bay, Woody Point and the Tablelands from the Norris Point Photographer’s Lookout. — Photo by Keith and Heather Nicol

“My scariest encounter with a moose happened just around the bend,” Gros Morne National Park’s interpreter, Kris Orevec, told us.

“I was walking along the boardwalk and a mother moose had a baby in tow and I must have surprised them. The mother moose responded by charging directly at me. As you can see, there is no place to hide up here, so I quickly squeezed under the boardwalk and waited until the two moose ambled away.”

We were taking part in a hike to the Lookout Hills which is one of many guided walks that are part of the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival which runs until May 29.

Our group of five hikers had just made it to the lookout platform at the top of the trail when Kris told us about her “moose incident.”

En route to the top we had seen a small moose and from the viewing platform had also seen four caribou on a distant snowfield.

We have done this hike on many occasions, but for the hikers from B.C., Manitoba and Ontario this was their first time up this trail.

For a special addition to this festival event on Sunday, May 22, the trip started with a boat trip across Bonne Bay from Norris Point and then an interpreted walk through the community of Woody Point.

From there we followed a short trail to the Discovery Centre, which is the start of the “normal” trail.

This is a big year for the festival since it is celebrating its fifth anniversary and “it seems to be getting larger and more popular” organizer Shirley Montague told us.

“In fact, this year we have made it several days longer than it was in the past.”

They have music workshops, interpretative walks and hikes, fancy dinners, boat tours and, of course, lots and lots of music. At times it is hard to choose what to do since there is so much to take in.

We arrived about 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 and had no sooner parked the car on the Norris Point waterfront than we could hear music from the Cat Stop.

We wandered through the door only to see “Ennis” singing one of our favourite songs. While we listened to “Out from St. Leonard’s” we were handed an event schedule and realized there were many other activities going on at the Bonne Bay Marine Station (BBMS) right next door as well as other locations along the Norris Point Waterfront.

We noticed our friend Elinor Benjamin on the programme. She was telling stories at the BBMS so off we went to find them.

She had local musician Daniel Payne accompanying her on his accordion and room full of children and adults listening closely to her folk tale of a princess and her upcoming marriage.

After that Mike Stevens tried to teach a room full of novice harmonica players the finer points of playing this instrument.

This is where we fell down on our pre-trip research, since it turns out Mike is a world class harmonica player from Sarnia, Ont., and I have a harmonica collecting dust in a closet somewhere in the attic. To think I might have picked up a few tips from a master. Next year, if he decides to come back, I will find my harmonica and be ready for his class.

See PACKED, page B2

There are also many scheduled workshops for anyone interested in the tin whistle, drumming, accordion, fiddle or step dancing so if you want some lessons by the “masters,” this festival has many opportunities.

As we checked in at the Ocean View Hotel we were told not to linger since if you wanted a seat for supper and to hear the “Singing Kitchen” at Pittman’s Family Restaurant, you needed to be there by 5 p.m. We arrived at 5:02 p.m. and there were only two places left in the entire restaurant and they were with a group that was already seated.

They graciously told us to join them and we had a fine home-cooked meal of fresh cod while 16-year-old Karissa Janes from Moncton, N.B., entertained us with her exceptional fiddle playing.

After dinner we headed for the town hall to hear an amazing lineup of performers that included Ennis, Gordon Cormier, Cherry Jam, George Woodhouse and Craig Young.

Host Snook kept everyone laughing between sets and when it ended Shirley Montague said, “I think you would have trouble matching this range and quality of music in most big cities in Canada.”

Given the final applause the audience certainly agreed. The town hall concert ended at 10 p.m. and then there were two more choices — either the blues or traditional Newfoundland music.

The next day things were not as hectic since we opted for the hike to the Lookout Hills.

But also on the schedule was brunch on the EmmCat Tour Boat, sea kayaking, a songwriter’s circle, a fiddle workshop, a Wine Master’s Feast, the Singing Kitchen and in the evening, the town hall concert followed by two choices of late night music.

The festival runs until May 29 so if you like either music and/or hiking and a host of other activities in one of the most scenic places in the world, you should definitely check this event out.

Organizations: Bonne Bay Marine Station, Discovery Centre, Ocean View Hotel

Geographic location: Gros Morne National Park, Norris Point, Manitoba Ontario Bonne Bay Woody Point Sarnia Moncton Canada Newfoundland

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  • Ananymous
    May 26, 2011 - 11:36

    Amazing festival! A must see,and must participate for anyone who likes having fun! just want to point out that its TALES,not TAILS.