The Pictou Lobster Carnival will go on this year.
Chairman Shawn McNamara and media relations officer Kent Corbett, who is also managing the event’s Covid Relief Plan, are thrilled to announce this much-loved festival will return to the county.
This year’s Lobster Carnival will run July 9-11. But, they caution, it won’t be the same as in previous years.
“Yes, there is going to be a Carnival, but it won’t be the same as in other years. We are going to do something for the Town of Pictou and Pictou County,” McNamara said.
“People have been asking us for the past few weeks — especially since news that the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition would not be held this year. People assumed there would not be a Lobster Carnival.”
But the dedicated group of volunteers who make Carnie happen year after year have been working hard for the past year to ensure it would be possible to host this year. Corbett and other Lobster Carnival Committee members have been involved in regular Zoom meetings with Public Health and Nova Scotia Alcohol & Gaming, and other governing bodies to make sure Lobster Carnival has a Covid Relief Plan in place and is complying with all of the regulations necessary to host the event.
“We’re taking direction from government,” Corbett said. “We developed a plan and (will) submit it to them.”
The Lobster Carnival is a summer tradition that celebrates the end of lobster fishing season in Pictou. It began in 1934 and has continued every year since, with the exception of war time and last year when the province first declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all festivals and events across the province ceased.
Carnival is always a huge success in Pictou, drawing somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 people over the course of the three-day festival that includes events like the fireworks, street parade, entertainment and more.
Even though vaccines are currently being administered, the carnival organizers say there are no plans to ease the social distancing requirements, masks or other safety measures in place by Public Health. But they have plans in place to keep everyone safe, as long as the rules are followed.
“All of our entertainment is Nova Scotia-based, even our headliners,” Corbett said. Other safety measures include a decreased capacity for the beer garden which will be set up in a new format, and a plea for event tickets to be purchased in advance.
“We’d really like everyone to purchase them in advance so contact tracing can be followed. We’d like to develop the ticket so it has a spot on the back for a name and phone number which will be kept by Carnival organizers and will be used to do contact tracing,” Corbett said.
“We are confident in the plan we are developing. It’s still in progress and we hope to have it approved by Public Health.”
Because of the changes necessary to host the Lobster Carnival this year, an increased number of volunteers will be required, said McNamara.
“This year more than ever, we’re going to need a lot of volunteers. We’ll need people for cleaning behind people, more servers … and all of these rules could change any week. We’re just going week by week,” McNamara said.
Every event that has been part of the Lobster Carnival in previous years is being examined to determine if it is possible this year, but the committee is excited about what will come. “We’re going to have something,” McNamara stressed.
Because fundraising has been limited for festivals, events and non-profits across the province for the past year, the sale of Carnie face masks will benefit the local committee immensely. The recent ham and salad takeout dinner hosted by the committee brought in approximately $3,500. “And that’s fantastic,” lauded McNamara. “We made 473 meals.”
The committee also hosts a Chase the Ace event at the Pictou Legion every Friday night. “That’s been a big supporter for us, too.”
But because it takes a lot of time, effort, volunteers and money to hold the Lobster Carnival every year, organizers are continually fund raising.
And in terms of safety, the Carnie has you covered, literally. The committee is currently selling face masks emblazoned with the Lobster Carnival logo. They are three-layers with a tri-carbon filter and are available for $10 each at Pictou Pharmacy and Millside General Store.