Summerside Lobster Festival kicks off Monday

Nancy MacPhee
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SUMMERSIDE — Don Quarles calls it the community’s festival. 

Don Quarles, executive director of the Summerside Lobster Festival, looks over the event’s web page. The festival, formerly known as the Summerside Lobster Carnival, begins Monday with the parade at 1 p.m.

The Summerside Lobster Festival’s executive director says that was the whole point of revamping the former Summerside Lobster Carnival — to get the entire community involved.

The event, which has taken on a new life, is set to begin Monday.

“The biggest thing is that we moved everything down to the waterfront. We really wanted to focus on it being a waterfront festival. Summerside is such a beautiful place. Why not take advantage of it,” said Quarles. “We’re getting a huge tent donated by the Confederation Bridge. All of our performances are going to take place in that tent. We have sandcastle building on the beach. We have a whole kids’ summer zone happening all week.”

New events have been added, some eliminated and others revamped for what Quarles called a week focusing on community and, of course, the lobster.

“This event started 59 years ago revolving around lobster fishing in the community,” he added. “That’s the whole idea of the Go Lobster campaign — 18 restaurants, 18 different lobster menu items, completely different, all for under $18. The whole intent was to bring it out into the community.”

Gone are the traditional daily lobster suppers, although the Summerside Legion will offer up the fare sporadically throughout the week.

The week of activities begins with a bang Monday, as the parade weaves its way through the city, leaving the Marine Terminal, going past Green’s Shore and ending at Credit Union Place.

The theme? Lobster, of course.

“It is going to be quite exciting,” promises Quarles, who noted, as of midday Wednesday, there were 60 entries from across the Island and beyond.

Those interested can still enter online, for free, at

“We are encouraging people to get creative. We are going to have some quite unique floats this year,” said Quarles. “We’re trying to elevate the creativity in floats. We are asking people to just go wild with the lobster theme. Some people have gone beyond, which is fantastic.”

For those less creative, help is available at parade decorating parties.

Anyone interested in volunteering can stop by the Marine Terminal at 6:30 p.m. Friday where there will be a barbecue and entertainment. Floats can be left at the terminal after 3 p.m. Saturday and those wanting to decorate can stop by throughout the weekend.

The official opening is set for 3 p.m. Monday inside the tent at Green’s Shore with an old tradition returning — the cracking of the lobster.

Returning are step dancing competitions, a revamped Youth Talent Showcase, the Downtown Sidewalk Sale and the popular SOS Cardboard Boat Race.

And every night, as is tradition, there will be harness racing at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway, culminating with the running of the Governor’s Plate on Saturday, July 19.

One thing synonymous with the former carnival — the midway — will be missing.

“Our intent... was to create a different environment,” said Quarles. “Yes, some people will miss riding a Ferris wheel, however, the hope is that some of the other activities that are going on are going to completely impress them.”

The focus is going to be on offering entertainment and various offerings simultaneously at different venues throughout the city.

Although last year’s carnival ended with a surplus, Quarles’s hope is that the new festival will be self-sustaining and only grow in the future.

Helping reach that goal is the community itself, he added.

Red Shores has come on as community sponsor, the City of Summerside is taking over the event and various businesses and individuals, through the Friends of the Festival Campaign, are offering their support.

At the end, it will be the community, though, through informal and formal surveys, that will decide what worked and what didn’t.

“We’re rebuilding this event. It’s got such a long history and tradition. We want to make sure it’s not forgotten,” said Quarles. “It’s the community’s festival. We want to keep it that way. The only way to do that is to get feedback from the community.”

A full schedule of events can be found at

The Summerside Lobster Festival runs from July 14 to 19.





Organizations: Marine Terminal, Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Summerside, Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Livealittle
    July 10, 2014 - 09:11

    Everyone in this town needs to try new things! The carnival was a great hit back in the days, but the last few years have been a disgrace. I however agree that it would be much better if the parade was set at a different time, but you can't please everyone.

  • Billy
    July 10, 2014 - 08:22

    City float last year was a ......wait...... A kayak on a piece of Sorry forgot the 3 city employees walking in front from CUP......exciting .........zzzzzzzzz

  • Lloyd
    July 10, 2014 - 07:39

    You have ruined the Carnival. For many years the rides and lobster dinners were the best. It was in one place not all over town. You people have ruined it in the last 10 years just like they are doing to Old Home Week.

  • Despierto
    July 10, 2014 - 07:17

    Looked at the website....are all events free? There's no mention of costs.

  • Jakolin
    July 10, 2014 - 06:56

    Great a new look, perhaps a better "Festival" but it is absolutely no good for the families, if the parade is during the day, most parents work the days, and with the lovely government going to HST(which I cannot get a rebate for) I can't afford to take time off to take my son. Evening parades would be better, less heat, and more parents would be able to take their children.

  • Don Gunning
    July 09, 2014 - 18:14

    Should of left well enough alone..Has the City build a new FLOAT this year..Beginning of the end..