Revitalized festival a big hit

Jeanne Whitehead/Digby
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For one youngster, Scallop Days becomes a wish come true

The buzz at the local coffee shop is that this year’s Scallop Days was “the best”. Entertainment committee member Phil Robertson says it’s partly because of the new blood on the organizing committees. “New people meant new ideas.”

One of new ideas resulted in pedestrian traffic only Sunday on Water Street. There were more than 90 antique vehicles and street rods on display, many of them from out of town. They drew admirers of all ages. A blue 1968 Mustang was named the favourite of Scallop Queen Chaylene Sarty.

Scallop shucking was back after a one-year hiatus. “In 2007 there was no scallop shucking and people were disappointed by this,” says Neil Pothier, one of the new members of the board. “What’s a Scallop Festival without scallop shucking?

This year’s shucking event on Water Street drew more than 300 people—and there was an upset. Paul Gidney, scallop-shucking champion for the past 24 years, was de-throned by Terry Muise. Gidney, who had recent surgery on his forearm, lost by three points.

In the lobster crate run Brenton Merrit, reigning champion, won yet another bicycle by running 100 crates.

Saturday evening there was music in every direction—Dwight d’Eon at the all-ages concert, the Stampeders at the Sunset Pub and Ruby Tuesday at the Scallop Days’ dance.

Pothier, who attended the dance, said numbers were disappointing. With a capacity for 800, only about 150 attended. He says that the Rolling Stone tribute band, however, was incredibly popular with the crowd. “The lead singer looked like Mick Jagger and had Jagger’s moves. You felt like you were back in the ’60s watching the Rolling Stones.”

The all-ages concert featuring Dwight d’Eon of Canadian Idol fame also drew disappointing numbers, while estimates for the Stampeders’ concert ranged from 200 to 700.

Pothier says the promoter of the all-ages concert and the dance accepted all the risk, so Scallop Days did not lose as a result of the low turnouts at those events.

There were more buskers than in previous years, and they were true crowd pleasers. Dizzy Hips entertained with hula-hoops, and contortionist Aidan Koper stuffed his body through a burning ring of fire.

There were also family reunions in every direction. A younger member of the Corbett clan, nine-year-old Austin came to town along with his family from Medicine Hat, Alta., courtesy of the Make-A-Wish foundation. Austin judged the children’s parade, rode in the Grand Street Parade along with Canadian Idol’s Dwight d’Eon, and was guest of honour at the Ceremony of the Flags.

Organizations: Stampeders, Rolling Stones, Wish foundation

Geographic location: Water Street, Medicine Hat

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