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General News · 24th May 2017
Kristen Scholfield-Sweet
The artful moments at Seafest this year started long before our neighbors, friends and island visitors arrived. Bill Dougan, Tammy Allwork, and the staff of the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort were grooming the gardens and grounds, ordering ingredients, and readying the docks of this spectacular site offered so generously by Richard and Michelle Glickman. The Cortes Volunteer Fire Department, overseen by Fire Chief Mac Diver, were again our organization partners.

The chefs are the true artists of Seafest, and my amazingly hard-working partner John Shook and I understand that our main job is supporting their creativity. Penny Timms, Claude Rossman, Charlene and Gordon Gram and their granddaughter Allison served oysters in lime-chipotle sauce garnished with parsley and bacon bits. Ayami and Bruce Stryck, along with Lynn and Ray Marttila, prepared oysters in Dengaku Miso sauce—a recipe polished into an art work of flavor. Christine Robinson, Debra Magnone, Mira and Shantima Braaten offered a dramatic new dish: sautéed oyster tacos filled with coleslaw dressed in chipotle mayonnaise, lemon, and parsley, wrapped in a whole grain tortilla. Fawn Baron, Rick Kolstad, and Deb Peters managed three stations of bubbling poached oysters for 14 cooks and could teach a master class in timing and rhythm.

The oyster tacos were the inspiration of friends who came from Edmonton to participate in the Seafest art show. Mary Jane Graham and Dianne Tuterra, supported by Tina Wesley and Sharon Paulson from Klahoose First Nation, spent Friday morning chopping cases of bok choy, cucumber and green onion for the Asian salad while Sue Lashmore blended the chipotle dressing for the tacos. The fourth Edmontonian, Gary Ford, helped by Lucky, set up the wine and beer garden area and did the heavy lifting for Rose Fitcyk, the Seafest barista. Mary Jane and Sue managed the Volunteer and Musicians food tent, and offered a kid’s menu. Gary was everywhere helping on Seafest day, along with relief cook Susan John, while Dianne orchestrated the salad mixing after Craig and Sandy Hoffman got the tossing started. Another everywhere-at-once helper both Friday and Saturday was Pierre Provencher, who raised the skill of fixing stoves to a high art.

This was arguably the best year ever for the other-than-oyster offerings. Barry Glickman and Amanda Thornton sautéed prawns, Jim Kerney and Loni Taylor toasted garlic bread, Brian Cant and Chris Walker steamed and flavored clams. All these cook stations were helped by servers Caz Ratcliff, Lucky, and John Blaxall who were joined by a rotating diorama of firemen Alex Bernier, Arron Ellingsen, Yifan Li and Richard Andrews while his daughter Mira worked the 50-50 draw

Seafest would not be Seafest without barbecued oysters on the half shell. Steve and Linda Pocock of Sawmill Bay on Quadra Island brought Oysters Rockefeller, Julia Rendell served Oysters Motoyaki with help from Linda Kovaks and Alice Goss, Dave and Janet Nikleva fixed tropical oysters in a mango sauce. The barbecues were kept supplied by the shucking expertise of Garth Walton, Ian Winter, Dianne Hansen, Ces Robinson and Phil Allen. And as if standing over a hot barbecue wasn’t enough, Dave both took off island and brought back oysters, clams and cases of shucked oyster meat prepared by Mac’s Oysters in Fanny Bay.

Food, like art, happens best with good people and equipment for making it. The tents went up, and then came down, with the help of Howie Roman, Gary Ford, Pierre, Lucky, Doug Wyler, Luka Biela, Laurier Mathieu, Eli McKenty and Mac Diver. Tables and tents were picked up and returned with the help of Ira Ellingsen, Doug Hamel and his nephew Daniel. Tickets were taken in and plates passed out by Barry Gregory, Leona Jensen, Erika Grundmann, Doone Kelly and Noba Anderson. Erik Lyon and Dennis Newsham could be seen carrying cases of supplies from the store and the oyster truck. As the line finally dwindled, volunteers enjoyed Seafest Pinot Grigio donated by Doug Brown of Good Libations. Peter Schmidt became the garbage guru both emptying cans during the festival and then delivering it all to the recycling centre. Clean up was a work of art in itself. Wheel barrows of equipment and stoves went to the Gorge Hall and were washed by Tina, Sharon, Amanda, Aaron, Mac, Dave Warkentin and Lucy Robinson.

An inspiring setting is everything when making art. Andy Vine was the music-coordinating magician, and Scotty Martin the sound wizard, for the talent of Laurel Bohart, Rex Weyler and friends, Andy Vine and Island Time, Thunder Road, Sachika Kosky and David Blinzinger, and the Larry Hanson Band. Fifteen for-profit vendors and 5 service organizations provided temptation, satisfaction and education for the crowd that came by foot, boat, camper, car and a free shuttle provided by Cortes Connection and the Strathcona Regional District. Locals and visitors were regularly enticed to attend with publicity notices from Gina Trzesicka, posters printed by R&H Printing in Campbell River, and a news feature in the Vancouver Sun by Cherie Thiessen.

Henri Matisse said, “the only valid thing in art is the one thing that cannot be explained.” And like a 1960’s art happening, no one can explain the magic that happened when approximately 75 volunteers drawn from island residents, seafood workers and our fire men and women made possible the serving of 5,400 oysters, 250 lbs of clams, 25 lbs of prawns and 45 Natural Food Co-op baguettes to about 650 people on that sunny “first day of summer” on Cortes Island.