More west coast festivals

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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Region’s terrific music can be enjoyed at numerous events and venues

No sooner had we unpacked from the excellent Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival which was centred in Norris Point in spectacular Gros Morne National Park, than we downloaded the schedule for the next spring festival in western Newfoundland.

To create some tourism buzz in the spring shoulder season, the Western Newfoundland Destination Organization has been working with various parts of the region to create festivals suited to their locale.

The next one is in the southwest corner of the province (from Stephenville to the Port aux Basques area) and is called the Feather and Folk Nature Festival.

This part of the province is a prime birding location and at this time of year birds are mainly arriving for the breeding season.

According to avid birder and guide Dave Brown, “this area is unique in Newfoundland for birding due to its varied habitats and proximity to Nova Scotia.”

We started the festival in Stephenville Saturday, May 28 and had hoped to see llamas being sheared for their wool at nearby Felix Cove.

But the day was cool and wet and the owner, Ed Hutchings, said they needed a warm, dry day to cut their wool.

“Maybe tomorrow. It depends on the weather,” he told us over the phone.

Fortunately, weather doesn’t affect indoor music, and that night we listened to the fine traditional music of the Benoit Family at Emile’s Pub in the Holiday Inn in Steph­enville.

The music event was jammed with people to hear the relatives of the famous fiddler Emile Benoit (for whom the pub is named) play their music.

The small dance floor was hopping and the crowd insisted they play well past their normal finishing time.

The last Friday in the month is folk night at Emile’s Pub, so you don’t have to wait until next year’s festival to hear traditional music from some of the fine musicians in this area.

The Bay St. George Folk Arts Council has done a good job promoting the development of traditional music and we plan to take in one of their “learn to play sessions” this week.

 We spent the night at the comfortable Wood’n Bed and Breakfast and we really appreciated the fact that owner Linda Alexander got up to make us breakfast at 8 a.m.

We had run into Linda at Emile’s Pub the night before and she told us that she didn’t get in until 2 a.m.

“The band just kept playing and they are so good that we had to stay,” she said with a laugh.

We phoned “Alpacas of Newfoundland” and Ed said the weather was still not good enough for llama shearing, so we went for a hike instead.

The hike began at nearby Noel’s Pond and traversed over the Indian Head Range to Stephenville Crossing. This is part of the International Appalachian Trail in Newfoundland and we joined 16 others for the hike.

The weather was damp and overcast, but we did see some birds, and the trail gives good views of the surrounding area from several viewpoints.

This is a fairly wet trail at this time of year, so if you plan to hike this on your own it is wise to bring waterproof hiking boots.

We plan to head down to the Codroy area later in the week to do some birdwatching and hear more music at the Sou’wester Soiree at the St. Christopher’s Hotel in Port aux Basques.

Also on the schedule is a guided hike up the Starlite Lodge Trail, geocaching events, a lobster boil and many other activities. (See www.springfest.ca for more information.)  We fully recommend the Starlite Lodge trail, since it is fairly short (two kilometres one way), but provides good views of the entire area.

After the Feather and Folk Festival is over, there are a few days before the A Spring in Your Step Festival takes place in Corner Brook from June 9-12.

Hiking, ziplining, a boat cruise and other activities are scheduled.

Then it’s the Iceberg Festival which is centred in St Anthony. It runs from June 10-19.

We have been to both of these festivals in the past and each is well worth taking in.  There is much more information on both of these events at www.springfest.ca.

By the look of the Iceberg Finder website there are a ton of icebergs sitting off the coast of southern Labrador and around the tip of the Northern Peninsula.

Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook. Check out Keith’s travel blog at http://keithnicol.blogspot.com and a Newfoundland hiking website at www2.swgc.mun.ca/~knicol/NLhiking.htm

Organizations: Western Newfoundland Destination Organization, Holiday Inn

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Stephenville, Norris Point Gros Morne National Park Port aux Basques Nova Scotia Corner Brook Codroy Port aux Basques.Also St Anthony Southern Labrador Northern Peninsula

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