This year's headliner for the Saturday evening main stage was Rita MacNeil - she had to be booked more than a year in advance. Rita was the original dream headliner of the Women's Fishnet when they originally dreamt up this festival, which started as a couple of women entertainer concerts in the Beach Centre, grew to the first Harmony Bazaar at the Osprey and now is a weekend long event held at SeaCaps park in beautiful downtown Lockeport. I'm glad that the festival finally grew to the Rita MacNeil level - she was totally awesome, putting on a marvelous show.
Friday evening the weather was atrocious - buckets of rain all day which hindered setup of the outdoor venue so the decision was made to move the opening concert into the Firehall. The weather likely deterred a few attendees but the 200 or so who came were pleasantly surprised to be indoors, warm and dry. Wayne and I lucked out as our assignment for the evening was the back gate which would have been very soggy if the event had stayed outside.
The evening began with a song-writers' circle hosted by Christine Crawford, along with Katelyn Surette, Norma MacDonald and Gina Symonds - great voices all and having the background to the songs they performed was interesting. Second up was Irish Mythen, Lockeport's adopted Irish sprite - I'm sure there are a lot of locals who would like to lure her away from Canso permanently. As usual, she blew us all away. Rounding out the evening was Melanie Doane - fantastic musician and singer (and very attractive woman). In all, this was a singularly talented group of women - great depth in this festival now.
Saturday and Sunday mornings the local Legion offered breakfast which was a nice addition to the weekend, particularly for those who came from out-of-town, We (Wayne, our guest Phil, and I) missed the Saturday one because we were working at the craft fair/fashion show being held in the high-school as part of the weekend events. From 8-2:15 we helped set up, carry crafters supplies in and out, answered questions and were just plain helpful. We also drank too much of the coffee the Baptist church was selling and ate too many of their home-made donuts.
The afternoon had a series of workshops about making CD's, balancing motherhood and performing, writing songs etc. As well there was an open mic session hosted by Julie Balish and then a series of performers up until 5:00PM. I missed several of the performances (we were in the gym still for the open mic and needed a break in the afternoon for a while), but Shelly MacIntosh was great as usual (what a lovely clear voice she has!) as was the group Woven. I didn't hear her myself but apparently Krystelle Leveque was very well received.
Saturday dinner is provided for the artists and various music industry participants in the festival - a good networking event for younger artists and the festival directors. After, at 6:45PM, the annual "Fishy" award was presented to Cathy Cook for her contributions to the local music scene, particularly her youth mentoring.
The Saturday evening stage show consisted of Christina Martin, Madison Violet and then Rita MacNeil. The evening stayed clear until about 1/2 hour after Rita was finished, when the Lockeport fog rolled in. A fabulous evening of entertainment!
Sunday was a blur - we were already pretty tired and then realized we had too many activities for the day. We started with the Legion breakfast, then a Morning Sun Ceremony (gospel music, mikma'q dances and traditions, a camp-fire) on the beach, then back to the Festival grounds for 2 hours of selling merchandise (T-shirts, hats, CD's), heard the beginnings of the Youth Concert and then we deserted Harmony Bazaar for other annual activities we enjoy - first the Shelburne County Garden Club Show and Tea and then we went on to Sandy Point for a lobster dinner.
It was a marvelous weekend - wonderful music, new friends, fun, laughter, good food. Wayne is now out (in the fog) planting the door prizes we won at the Garden Club's Show.
Cleanup will take a few days but I know that Errin has already booked headliners for next year (Quartette which features Sylvia Tyson). It was a lot of work, well done! Kudos to all who gave so much of their time to give us such a wonderful weekend!