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General News · 30th May 2016
Kristen Scholfield-Sweet
Seafest 2016 was amazing. From beginning to end it was a pro show. We owe the remarkable day to the hard work and good will of so many islanders. Richard and Michelle Glickman, Bill Dougan, Tammy Allwork, Rose Fitcyk and the staff of Gorge Harbour Marina Resort each year seem to raise the level of beauty and service. How the experience of 78 volunteers serving approximately 5820 oysters and 350 lbs of clams, plus 600 prawns from C-Fin and 35 baguettes from the Cortes Natural Food Co-op, to about 650 people can manage to feel intimate and family-friendly is due to the attention the Marina staff lavish on this remarkable setting, and on the visitors and islanders who come to enjoy it. More thanks of the first order go to the Cortes Island Fire Department and Chief Mac Diver for being our organizational partner, and to Andy Vine for coordinating the music. More about their contributions later.

An indicator of excellence is the return of cooking teams to that heart of Seafest: the main cook tent. Ayami Stryck and John Preston, assisted by Christine Robinson and Oriane Lee Johnston, have polished Dengaku Miso sauce to an art form. Claude Rossman, Penny Tims, Charlene Gram, helped by Leslie Matthews and her daughters Alison and Jillian, invent unusual ways to plate oysters and are passing this enthusiasm on to the next generation. Noba Anderson, who was everywhere assisting on Friday with layout and Saturday with clean-up, cooked with Kate Archibald, Mira and Shantima Braaten. Three of the most appreciated pros are Fawn Baron, Rick Kolstadt and Deb Peters who keep all those cooks supplied with poached oysters by orchestrating hot water, stainless steel bowls and ninety seconds into a perfect dance.

But the main tent is not just about cooked oysters. Barry Glickman and Amanda Thorton, with the help of Brent Aarvold and Deb Magnone, reprised the sushi salad. Our garlic bread chef Jim Kerney had Marte LeBerge and Diana Safarik to butter and flip, while Brian Cant returned with his clams in Thai Sweet Chili sauce. Caz Ratcliff and Heather Olgilvy helped him serve while Richard Gaudette volunteered some hot hours over a steaming clam pot while being toasted by barbecue exhaust. In the barbecue zone Janet and Dave Nikleva offered a new favorite sauce made of mangos, garlic and horseradish. Steve and Linda Potock of Sawmill Bay Shellfish on Quadra Island returned with oyster fritters, and Keith and Suzanne Muir prepared Oysters Motoyaki with the help of Alice Goss. A special treat this year was served by members and friends of the BC Ambulance team captained by Unit Chief Mary Clare Preston. Silvia Groicher, Kate Maddigan, Wilfred Betz, Ben Hiatt, Tamara McPhail, Suzanna Rodriguez, Lyle Brulhart and Isabelle LaPoint chopped 50 lbs of potatoes, fried 10 lbs of bacon, added 10 litres of whipping cream and then stirred and served clam chowder so good it was worthy of the down east name “Chow-da.”

And what of those volunteer firemen and firewomen? Like the best help, they were everywhere at once. Lucy Robinson loaded tables and tents with Ces Robinson and my favorite everywhere-at-once helping guy John Shook. Paul Brewer cleaned and repainted signs while Eli McKenty, Phil Allen, and Christian Grebenant helped Bob Katzko, Howie Roman and John put up tents. Dave Warkentin and Laurier Mathieu, plus Abi Maycock, TL Tutor and Doone Kelly, ran the new volunteer food tent. Dennis Newsham was an excellent store and product go-fer, supported by Bob Tracy and Peter Schmidt. Bob and Peter also emptied cans and hauled garbage during and after the festival. Phil Allen, along with Kathy Walton and John Blaxall, were hovercraft—willing to do whatever was needed with only a moment’s notice and usually no instruction. The fire department cause was also helped by Mira Andrews and friends who sold so many 50-50 tickets. Clean up was especially appreciated as Mac Diver organized Chris Walker, Luka Biela, Alex Bernier, Dave Warkentin, and Richard Andrews into a brigade of wheelbarrows taking dirty pots and stoves to the Gorge Hall for washing. And thanks to Howie Roman for trusting that the Hall would get cleaned up.

Another smaller but special category of pros are the ticket takers who show up without needing an invitation to greet visitors and locals: Barry Gregory, Erika Grundman, Del Hendon and Emilia Hansen. This year would have been harder work but for the publicity support of Susanna Bonner and Mac Diver, again, who collaged the Seafest poster.

My biggest thanks go to the oystermen and women who keep the sea in this festival: David Nikleva for delivering clams, the beach oysters and shucked meat from Mac’s Oysters in Fanny Bay; Diane Hansen, Ian Winter and Garth Walton for shucking oysters for the barbecue; Brent Petkau and Ces Robinson for manning the fresh oyster bar.
Next to location, atmosphere is everything. There were 17 for-profit vendors enticing, and 6 non-profit organizations educating the crowd. The Children’s Forest presented the Reader’s Theatre performance of The Lorax. Andy Vine coordinated the best musical line-up in the Festival’s 21-year history: Dave Blinzinger, Laurel Bohart, Terence Jack, Andy Vine and Island Time, Sachika Kosky and Larry Hansen. Thanks to Scotty Martin, the new sound man, who when I said we would be on site first thing 9 am Saturday morning if he wanted to come then to set up, replied, “Oh no, everything will be up with sound checks finished long before that.” Then he smiled and said, “This is a pro show.”

May we make our way joyfully into the world with the blessing of good food, shared with good friends.