If this year’s Pictou Lobster Carnival could be described in just a few words, they might just be “dry”, “cool”, and “successful”.
Event chairman Shawn McNamara said during Matt Minglewood’s performance Saturday evening that the licensed side of the grounds came very close to hitting capacity.
“Minglewood does that,” McNamara said. “He did that two years ago — we had close to 1,200. He plays a big, big part.”
McNamara said it’s funding that keeps the Carnival running. Sponsorship is key, as is fundraising. He said that throughout the past year, $15,000 was raised though a variety of events including skating sessions, wrestling shows, pancake breakfasts and others. Carnival begins taking shape in September and builds from there.
“A lot of people think Carnival starts about a week before, when they see the fair come into town,” McNamara said.
But the event doesn’t come and go without raising a few emotions.
“At 7 o’clock Sunday night, there’s a feeling that comes over ya that you can’t explain,” McNamara said. “Accomplishment, success… it hit me last night, Saturday night, seeing all these people and looking at all our committee people that work so hard and the smiles on their faces. They’ve all got sore faces today, I’m sure of it. I’m the same way. It’s just such a great feeling.”
The biggest change over previous years was the use of a tent over the main stage and audience areas. McNamara said the idea came from Troy Greencorn of the deCoste Performing Arts Centre, who had done something similar, with proven results, at Stanfest. McNamara said he and the volunteer team heard compliments all weekend regarding the tent and said that despite public chatter to the contrary, it actually saved the Carnival $4,000 over last year’s staging options. It also meant that the show could keep going, regardless of what kind of weather rolled though.
Last weekend’s weather was hit and miss in terms of sun and rain. McNamara said that “weather is what makes or breaks you” and cited it as a contributing factor to last year’s low turn out.
It wasn’t just the tent that folks were focusing on.
“A guy I was standing behind the other day,” McNamara said, “he was talking to his friend he said ‘you know, it was the best fireworks I’ve seen in I can’t remember. The parade was one of the best. The entertainment, one of the best.’ He said, ‘what more can you ask for?’ He didn’t know I was behind him when he was saying that. It means more when they don’t know you’re there. Sometimes they say it just to be nice, but I knew it was coming from his heart.”
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser go head-to-head in the lobster banding competition as part of opening ceremonies for the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival. (Cameron photo)