GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, N.L. – The 11th Annual Iceberg Festival underwent a rebranding this year.
Covering the tip of the Viking Trail, from around Bird Cove to L’Anse aux Meadows to Englee, organizers of the June 7 to 16, 2019 event wanted to generate more interest across the vast landscape.
First-time coordinator Jeff Patey says they wanted to involve more communities from the Straits – including Flower’s Cove, Anchor Point, Bird Cove, and others – and the Northern Peninsula East, taking in Roddickton-Bide Arm, Englee, Conche, and others.
He feels, in recent years, the festival focused too strongly on St. Anthony and L’Anse aux Meadows.
Residents in some of these other communities may not even have realized their town is a participant in the festival.
“A lot of people don’t know where it is and why it is,” Patey told The Northern Pen. “The issue was to try to rebrand it so that locals know what it’s all about, and know that it’s in their area, and to try and get more involvement from other areas.”
They added new featured events, ongoing across the 10 days, and incorporated those communities.
This year, they included the Rock Art Hunt, started in 2018 by the St. Anthony Public Library, and expanded its scope.
Some 200 rocks were painted by both local youth and adults and were hidden throughout communities in four different areas on the Northern Peninsula: St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Northern Peninsula East and the Straits areas.
For each, one rock was drawn as a winner. Whoever finds the rock, along with whoever painted it, are awarded a prize.
Meanwhile, the Iceberg Explorer Challenge tried to encourage hiking throughout the tip of the Viking Trail.
For this event, the Iceberg Festival Committee selected 10 hiking trails for participants to complete, including ones in Conche, Flower’s Cove and Roddickton-Bide Arm.
Before starting out, each participant is given a passport card. They have to find a punch at each trail and punch the card to show they’ve completed the trail.
Once they've completed eight trails, they can submit their card and be placed in a prize draw.
Another new event to incorporate the whole area was the Fish N Chips Challenge. This year saw 11 different restaurants compete to see who made the best fish and chips.
An overall customer rating determines the winner, who is announced following the festival.
Outside of the St. Anthony and St. Lunaire-Griquet areas, however, only L&E Restaurant in Flower’s Cove competed in the inaugural event.
Patey says it’s unfortunate they weren’t able to involve more restaurants from the Straits or Northern Peninsula East, but he was pleased to see how invested participating restaurants had become in the contest.
Icebergs are the stars
The Iceberg Festival is held each year to draw tourists to the Viking Trail during the “shoulder season” between spring and summer.
But, as its very name suggests, it is also to celebrate the arrival of icebergs off the coast of the Northern Peninsula.
Iceberg Finder listed 64 icebergs off the peninsula's shores.
One large berg appeared during the festival near Englee, while others populated the L’Anse aux Meadows area.
In St. Anthony, icebergs could be seen off in the distance, but few were seen near the harbour.
Jeff Patey, Iceberg Festival coordinator, says this would have been good for tour operators, however. Tourists visiting St. Anthony, who wished to view the bergs, needed the tour to see them up close.