Family fun in North West River

Bonnie Learning
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Beach festival set for July 26-27

It’s a fun weekend for the young and the young-at-heart.
That’s how Lowell Barkmann, co-chair for the 2014 North West River Beach Festival, describes this year’s event, scheduled for July 26-27 at Lester Burry Memorial Park.

Plans for the 29th annual North West River Beach Festival are well in the works, with musicians, magicians and contests on the agenda for a fun-filled family weekend July 26-27.

“This is the 29th annual festival, and we’ve got lots of great performers and activities scheduled,” said Barkman.

One of the highlights this year will be Sherman Downey and the Ambigious Case from St. John’s, who won CBC Radio’s “Searchlight” competition in 2013. The group plays a mixture of folk and bluegrass.

The band will take to the stage on Saturday and Sunday evening of the festival.

“One of our committee members has a personal connection with the band, and was instrumental in getting them to perform,” said Barkman.

Barkman added in addition to Sherman Downey, there are also many other great local musical acts, including the Jacinda Beals Band, Meshikamu, Peter Hamel & Friends, and more.

“We have entertainers ranging in age from eight to 83,” said Barkman, noting octogenarian Wilbert “Web” Montague will be taking to the stage to entertain with some fiddle playing.

“Also coming back this year are Chris Wesfall, a magician from Ontario who was a huge hit last year with both kids and adults; the Sundogs, a great band from Nain, who have played at various events across the country; and we are waiting on confirmation from Vince Fiddler, a native dancer, who was also a big hit last year.”

In addition to the musical acts, Barkman said there will also be many other events to take in as in past years, including sand sculpture contents, a “crazee hat contest” for the kids, and canoe races.

“We are looking to borrow canoes from Sheshatshiu, who recently purchased several of the same canoes, so we can actually tell who are the best paddlers as opposed to ‘who has the best canoe,’” chuckled Barkman, adding there will be monetary prizes for the winners.

“People can register on Saturday for the events, with the women’s race taking place on Saturday, and the men’s on Sunday.”

Of course, he added, there will be the usual food, game and information concessions on hand for all, and fireworks shows on both nights of the festival.

“We will also be broadcasting live on radio again this year, for those who can’t be there,” said Barkman. “Tune into 95.1 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and 92.5 in North West River the weekend of the festival. We will have a link posted on our website.”

Some housekeeping notes for the weekend, noted Barkman: general parking is encouraged at the old airstrip (first left after turning right at the end of the bridge) and please keep your dogs at home if at all possible.

“We have always had an issue with these two things — we need to keep the roadways clear of vehicles for emergencies; and we need co-operation from the residents of North West River and Sheshatshiu to keep your dogs at home, as they can become aggressive with the amount of food and people around the park. We don’t want an unfortunate incident to occur. So please keep your dogs secured at home — we can’t stress that enough.”

Barkman also notes pet owners should keep their animals inside during the fireworks both nights.

For more information on the upcoming festival, visit

Organizations: CBC Radio

Geographic location: North West River, Ontario, Happy Valley Goose Bay

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