On a beautiful weekend my friends and I piled into a car and began our Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival Odyssey in Truro, Nova Scotia. The plan was to have a fantastic lunch at Keggers Alehouse and finish with the famous Maritime dessert, Blueberry Grunt. When we got to Truro, Keggers Alehouse looked very intriguing and the sign for the festival in the window was reassuring. Then we tried to open the door. The restaurant was closed.
I tried not to panic. I had eaten very little in the morning. I wanted to indulge during the festival at this particular blueberry event. It was around 1 pm. We looked at the sign. It said it opens at 11:30 am. Then we looked at the sign below that sign, it said it opens at 4 pm. Well that makes sense.
The song from a marching band drew us down the street. There was a parade in town so we walked towards the music to distract us from our puzzling situation. We had missed the beginning of the parade so the event eluded us. There were bagpipers, a child dressed as a giant ear, Shriners, some cute floats, some very unusual floats and horses pulling prize-winning sheep.
By the time the parade was done I had to eat something. I grabbed a Blueberry Bloom Donut from Tim Horton’s which tasted like it was covered in sweet but crunchy blueberry-flavoured chemicals.
We decided to drive down to the Masstown Market which was listed as one of the events for the festival. The market is more like a small mall than a traditional old-time farmers market. There is a supermarket, deli, cafeteria-style restaurant, ice cream booth, small but commercial bakery… I was disappointed to see the blueberries were actually more expensive here than at my local grocery store. There were blueberry loaves (over $4 a loaf!), muffins and cakes but I did not get the “made from scratch” feeling their site claims. I also did not see any promotion of the festival, it just felt like a regular day at their contemporary market.
There were still hours to go before the “second” listed opening time at Keggers so we tried calling them to confirm they open at 4 pm. We called the number listed in the brochure for the festival and got a fax machine. At this point, our hearts sank. There was no guarantee the pub would open at 4 pm so I suggested we head back toward town and stop by Sandbar Restaurant in Shubenacadie. The restaurant was at Tidal Bore Rafting Park which sounded interesting and according to the festival brochure they were serving “various blueberry desserts” for the festival.
We drove down dirt roads that seem to go on forever. By the time we got to the parking lot of the lodge, many of us were too weak from hunger to bother getting out of the car. One of my friends said she had a bad feeling and refused to get out. Others went inside to inquire about the restaurant. They were assured it was indeed open so we followed a path, went around the bend and walked into what felt like a tiny cafe, not a licensed restaurant. I did not even bother sitting down. One of my friends immediately said to the server, “We are here for the blueberry festival. What blueberry desserts do you have?”
The guy looked stunned. I have never seen someone’s face go completely blank right before my eyes. He had no idea what we were talking about and they did not have one blueberry item available. That was it. We were done. We got into the car starving and drove back to town. We had left at noon and ended up finally getting food five hours later back where we had started from.
I can only conclude from our experience that the Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival was a complete and utter disappointment. How sad the closest I got to a blueberry dessert during the festival was at Tim Horton’s, which I could have picked up in my own neighbourhood. The only successful element to this festival was to give this foodie the blues.
Update: Since I wrote this article my friend Kelly discovered that the mysterious parade was The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Parade. Thanks Kelly!
Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite says
Wow – how lame. So sorry a promising event turned out so disappointing. I am like you and when I get hungry, i have to eat otherwise I get very grumpy. I can only imagine how you felt 🙁
Debra She Who Seeks says
How disappointing! At least you got some blueberry-flavoured chemicals at Timmie’s!
Cheryl Arkison says
That sucks. Next time drive to the Sugar Moon Maple Farm. Can’t guarantee the blueberry supply, but the pancakes are never ending.
Disappointing indeed, but at least it provided you with some good blog fodder. Loved the comment about the blues! I hate when an anticipated outing turns out to be such a bust.
I can’t wait to try your salsa recipe, btw. My husband is not a huge fan of garlic and yours has none. Do you can or freeze this, or just make it fresh?
Delightful description of your very bad, horrible, no-good day!
You say about the parade, “There were bagpipers, a child dressed as a giant ear, Shriners, some cute floats, some very unusual floats and horses pulling prize-winning sheep.”
The others I am familiar with, but please elaborate on the “horses pulling prize-winning sheep.” 🙂
Suzie Ridler says
Sugar Moon Maple Farm sounds amazing, will check that out for sure!
Unfinished work, actually, my salsa recipe does have garlic in it but leave it out if you don’t like it. I hope you enjoy the recipe! It is very fresh unlike most salsas that are cooked.
Joan, you can find the photo of the carriage pulling the sheep here:
Devin Trefry says
Hi Suzie. I was horrified to read about your experience with the festival. There are over 60 opportunities to enjoy wild blueberries as part of the festival (24 restaurants serving wild blueberry menu items, 12+ community dining experiences, 3 U-picks, 7 Farmers Markets, raking and pie eating contests etc. etc..) and it’s a shame that the stars weren’t aligned for you and your friends that day. I can assure you that Kegger’s serves a great Blueberry Grunt (sorry about the confusion over their hours of operation), and the Masstown Market’s baked goods (if given a chance) are delicious. The Sandbar Restaurant, although small on the inside, has one of the greatest outdoor seating areas for dining in the province – unfortunately I’ll have to give them a nudge to remind them to whip up their homemade wild blueberry desserts for the festival(it must be a busy summer for rafting). No comment on your Tim’s doughnut or the parade.
Anyway, to be fair to the many community groups and businesses who support the festival I wanted to reassure your readers that there is a lot more to the festival than the unfortunate experiences that you had. I encourage them to visit http://www.wildblueberryfest.com where there are plenty of activities to choose from. I hope at some point you can give the festival another chance as I know it is important to a great deal of communities throughout central and northern Nova Scotia. On the bright side…you were able to use that clever title for your blog.