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!