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Concert scheduled for this evening, while many vendors operating in anticipation of Wednesday’s 201st running of the Royal St. John’s Regatta
It was traditionally the day when rowers competing on the Royal St. John’s Regatta’s top contending teams would gather at the boathouse to wax their shells in preparation for the big day, while dozens of concessionaires would be busy setting up their booths around the pond.
But in recent years, Regatta Eve is becoming a huge event on its own.
Thousands of people are expected to gather at the pond today to take in events that will include a concert this evening. More than 100 concessionaires — from food vendors to groups with games of chance — will also be open for business.
“The anticipation really begins the day before,” said St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen, who is also a member of the Regatta committee.
“People love to come down to soak up a bit of the atmosphere the day before. Regatta Eve is really growing in popularity. The crowds keep growing and growing.”
The boat races aren’t held until Wednesday, during the 201st running of the Regatta, the oldest organized sporting event in North America.
Breen said the hype of the Regatta continues to build for people all over the province.
“The Regatta is a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it’s the races, for others it’s the wheels,” said Breen, referring to the games of chance. “But for many, it’s a chance to get to see people they haven’t seen in a while. It’s a huge social event.”
Leigh Anne O’Neill, executive director of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee, said the committee began organizing Regatta Eve events about four years ago.
“Before, Regatta Eve was more unofficial,” she said. “Now, we’ve really done a lot of promotion and it’s really growing,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement about it.”
Todd Hickey, who co-owns Ziggy Peelgood fries with Tony Gilbert, said they’ve had a food truck at the pond for Regatta Eve for the past seven years.
“It’s really become the thing to do. People come down to check out what’s going on and they love to stop for their fries and walk around the pond,” said Hickey, who noted the food truck will also be there on Regatta Day.
“We’re more or less expected to be there now. It’s wonderful to be part of (the tradition of Regatta Eve) and to see the same people coming back. Now, we’re seeing even more people.
We’re looking forward to coming back again.”
The concert, featuring the Black Sheep band, will begin at the bandstand at 6 p.m.
Earlier in the day, at noon, the Royal St. John’s Regatta’s new winner's circle will be unveiled with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the boathouse.