Lobster and legends

Juris Graney
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Storytellers recall the past at annual Cow Head festival

Rachel Payne - file photo

Anne Reid still remembers wool frolicking when she was a kid, in fact every day two egg cups remind her of the way of life in pre-Confederation Newfoundland.

As was the way in Cow Head and many of the communities on the Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador, communities helped communities.

If you had a skill, you shared it; even if you didn't, you would still lend a hand.

For the most part, that attitude is still active today.

During the annual Cow Head Lobster Festival, Reid and close friend Rachel Payne shared tales of their upbringing to eager tourists keen to know what life was really like in this region.

For Reid, part of that life was helping other families.

"My mother came down and told me that I had to help a lady frolic some wool," she said.

"I spent the whole day down there and at the end of it she paid me with two egg cups and a five cent piece. I kept that nickel for a couple of months and I still have those egg cups."

Payne chimed in.

"We didn't work for much money back then, we worked because we could and we worked to help others out in the community."

The stories flowed thick and fast, covering everything from Christmases to when electricity first came to the peninsula in February 1966.

"As children, we would go down to the water and collect moss," she told a small group of visitors inside the Dr. Henry N. Payne Community Museum and craft shop.

"We'd dry out the moss and then we'd go out and collect stones," she moved her hands to demonstrate the size of the rocks, about the length and width of a packet of salt cod, "with crayons or pencils we'd draw faces on the rocks and put the moss around them and they would be our dolls."

The pair's stories were just some of the local attractions at this year's annual lobster festival which again attracted healthy numbers of tourists to the town.

Over three days, the town hosted a variety of actitivities including tea in the garden, bingo, theatre, bicycle parade, children's games, and the newest addition of "Home Spun," a collection of stories and songs reflecting the Newfoundland lifestyle of the past performed by TNL Youth Theatre.

Organizing committee member Paula Whelan said the event was "on par" with previous years.

"I'd say it was fairly successful," she said, "on par for sure."

As for the weather, Whelan said it could have been better.

"But it rarely is," she laughed.

"We've come to expect that though."

The biggest attraction of course was the lobster dinners of which there were plenty.

Rev. Jean Brenton-Hickman said the church group cooked 700 lobster over the three days with just 19 going unsold, but not uneaten.

Volunteers who had slaved away all weekend were gifted the meals as a thank you for all their hard work.

And, she said, the number of lobsters sold was similar to last year however their larger size meant they would have broken even.

Considering that 20 years ago the price of a lobster dinner was $20 and last weekend the price was $25, maybe there is room to move up in the price to the consumers.

"It's something we will discuss in the winter," she said.


Organizations: Henry N. Payne Community Museum, TNL Youth Theatre

Geographic location: Cow Head, Northern Peninsula, Southern Labrador Newfoundland

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