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General News · 26th May 2015
SEAFEST Volunteers / Susanna
On April 1st John Shook and I start preparing for SEAFEST. Besides being my behind-scenes hero, John is the go-to guy for the all local seafood served at the festival and purchases oysters and clams from Dave Nikleva, and oysters from Ian Winter, Julia Rendall, Garth Walton and ourselves. Victor MacClaggan generously contributes little oysters for shooters. My first thanks go to these farmers because their support begins early and continues till the end of the festival day. Also in early April we confirm our location at the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort. Our gratitude goes to Bill Dougan, Tami Allwork, the Gorge Harbour store staff, and Rose Fityck. And especially to Richard and Michelle Glickman for hosting Seafest. My big task in April is finding volunteers, and this year I have the best organizer ever in Susanna Bonner and the folks who support the Cortes WiFi Society, who are our organizational partners.

Even in these early days much activity is happening. I focus on finding cook teams and confirming recipes; John focuses on confirming tables gratefully borrowed from the Cortes Bay Church, tents, cook stoves and barbecues. It is such a blessing when cooks say yes: Penny Timms and Claude Rossman are cooking Honest Oystees with Gordon and Charlene Gram; Ayami Stryck and John Preston are joining with Lynn and Ray Martilla to prepare Ayami’s Dengaku Miso Oysters. Steve MacRorie and Leah Seltzer are fixing a new poached oyster appetizer with a citrus fennel garnish, and Kirsten Vidulich is remarkably willing to make a pasta and pesto salad using 13 kilos of orzo. Bianka Satoria, Justine Sawicz and Rupert Yeo are teaming up with Wayne MacKee and Sarah Downey to cook Not So Cheesy Oysters in a nutritional yeast, tamari and tahini sauce. Jim Kerney agrees to toast baguettes in garlic butter that will be baked by Michael Landry from the Cortes Natural Food Co-op. Susanna and Joël Doyle create the SEAFEST 2015 poster.

The experienced barbecue teams gratefully organize themselves. Steve and Linda Potok from Sawmill Bay Shellfish on Quadra Island are bringing Oysters Rockefeller plus Jay Donaldson and Ryan Siegal to help; Julia Rendall and Linda Kovaks will prepare Oysters Motoyaki; Dave and Janet Nikleva are offering oysters in a new light barbecue sauce with a base of chicken broth, Thai Chili paste and horseradish. The folks who shuck the oysters for the barbecue cannot be appreciated enough. This year the team supplying the grills are Dianne Hansen, Garth Walton, and Ian Winter. Brian Cant agrees to again fix his remarkable clams in a Thai sweet chili sauce and white wine reduction.

By the last week in April the Temporary Food permit has been applied for from VIHA, the pre-order calculations have been gone over obsessively (imagine jumping up tonight’s dinner x 700), and Susanna is posting notices on Tidelines, in the Marketeer Flier, and the Discovery Islander. In the first week of May our music magician Andy Vine confirms that the musical magic is happening. We have Laurel Bohart playing harp, Garden and Dana of the Germinators up next, then Andy, Danielle Arcand, Brian Hayden and Leonard Woywitka creating Island Time. New this year is the A Farkin Jazz Conspiracy with Malcom, Sean, Alex, Jack and Jeremy. Dave Blinzinger will again set up the sound system and then will be playing easy jazz with Stephano Perdisa and Grahame Edwards. Larry Hansen returns this year playing with Scotty and Dan. SEAFEST is becoming known as much for the great music as the great food, and we really appreciate all the skill that performs under the somewhat shortened maple tree.

During the week of THE FEST, Dave spends two days ferrying the product to and from Mac’s Oysters, who again are willing to shuck for free so that the most necessary ingredient can be back on island in a refrigerated truck Thursday night. The whole festival phenomena truly would not happen without their generosity. LeeAnn Campbell and Ben Rendall pick up ice to keep everything copacetic on festival day. Friday is like a pre-festival festival when the tents go up. This year Bob Katzco, Cheryl Thompson, Howie Roman, Richard King, Steve Reid, Tom Morrison and Clifford Mitchel erect tents while Jo Mitchell cleans and decorates signs. Carol Trueman watches over the artists who create the line-up signs: Melinda Trueman (age 5), Clemente Reid (age 5) and his sister Neena (age 3). Kamina Reid (age 7 mo) supervises between naps.

SEAFEST day arrives and so does the Sun. In the 9 am quiet Ken Hanuse helps us cover the tables, and will later honor the Spirits of Place, the food, and the women and men warriors who make all this happen with welcome and blessing songs from the Klahoose First Nation. Vendors begin arriving by 10:00 and although their jingling pockets are a best thank you, we so appreciate that each year more crafters, artists, and service organizations attend and are helping to create an atmosphere that feels like the old time Renaissance Fairs I remember from the 1960’s in Oregon. Ron Bazar helps with vendor set up so I can focus on the cooks’ arrival. The barbecue crews are being helped by Alice Goss, Holly MacKay and Johnna Pletcher, while oyster shooters for the raw bar are prepared by Victor MacClaggan, joined by Ces Robinson, Rex Weyler, two brothers from Montreal and a shucker from Araxi’s Restaurant in Whistler.

The cook tent is buzzing like a disturbed hive before we start serving at 11:30. Fawn Baron is working the oyster poaching table with the help of Rick Kolstadt and Deb Peters. Their collective skill is amazing as oysters are drained, poached for 90 seconds and taken to 6 cook teams continuously, apparently without anyone running into anything. The ticket takers are Yvonne Kipp, Diana Manson, Ester Strijbos, Donna Manson, Doone Kelly, and Barry Gregory who probably spend most of their time saying that this year there are no tickets. More volunteers find tasks once the line starts moving. Marthe LaBerge and Caz Ratcliff serve clams, while Kath Walton runs the steaming clam hot pot. Erika Grundmann and Emilia Hanson prep and serve the poached oyster salad. John Blaxall and Glenna Foerster serve orzo salad and garlic bread, and Steve London becomes the buttering bread support. Elizabeth Anderson and Harriet Quint prep mounds of lemon zest, and Carol London is everywhere, helping with everything.

Some of the best support is from folks who wander. Nori Fletcher, Del Hendon, Sam Mayer and Erik Lyon give relief to cooks and take on all manner of errands. Doug Butts goes to the store for re-supply, Richard Trueman refills drinks and water, and Peter Schmidt attends to regularly filling-up garbage and recycling cans. Georgina Silby and Mary Lou Lorenson have the important task of feeding the volunteers, cooks, store staff and musicians, and arguably the most difficult one, since they must cruise their plates around the inside the tent in order to fill them.

Of course such a day needs a few bumps, and during the half hour when we think we are out of oysters, the alarm goes out and Susanna, Pete, Erik, Brandon, Nate and Mark Lombard join the barbecue team to shuck straight into the frying pans. The missing box is found and the relief is palpable. I think my favorite volunteer is Elinor Harwood who arrives at 3 pm with rubber gloves and wants to know, “where do I start washing up?”
Cortes Connection and driver Ian Ross makes arriving easy with the free shuttle supported by the Strathcona Regional District, while Doug Brown of Good Libations helps make an easy end to the day at 4 pm by donating a case of wine for the volunteers.

So who makes SEAFEST happen? You do, of course. This community’s participation is truly awesome. SEAFEST only happens because so many islanders and visitors come to help and stay to enjoy. I’ll post total numbers for this year when I have them. Get ready for next year that is all about cats when the Cortes Cat Rescue is our organization partner. And cats love seafood, right? All the Best, Kristen