Tyne Valley has become the latest Island community to prove you don’t have to be big to think big.
According to the province’s 2012 Statistical Review, the community near the Malpeque Bay, from where it draws its best-known symbol – the oyster, had a population of just 222 bodies. But if the recent announcement of the inaugural Rock the Boat Musicfest is any indication, those 222 people have a lot of soul.
While other smaller cities, towns and villages across P.E.I. and all of Canada for that matter, have, over time, seen their community festivals and fairs dwindle, die or become irrelevant, Tyne Valley is working hard to maintain and hopefully even grow their summertime showcase.
The Tyne Valley Oyster Festival is entering its 50th year and while still best-known for the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championships that bring in the best oyster shuckers in the country (perhaps the world), the announcement Friday of the addition of the Rock the Boat Musicfest will surely boost the community’s profile on the Island tourism map.
Oftentimes, in the world of community events, the weak die a slow painful death, only lasting as long as they do because of the hard work and community spirit of those volunteers who operate them – burnout, however, eventually becomes an overwhelming factor.
With this new festival, Tyne Valley is showing leadership in keeping energy and excitement levels high. And, as was pointed out by Oyster Festival president Jeff Noye, the successful fairs and best ideas are often copied and duplicated by larger centres with more corporate support and larger populations bases.
With this announcement it appears Noye and his colleagues are not going to let that happen to their Oyster Festival.
With more performers set to be released in the coming weeks, Rock the Boat organizers have already signed the likes of Jimmy Rankin, Great Big Sea frontman Alan Doyle, Hunter River’s popular Meaghan Blanchard, and Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.
It’s a strong lineup for a small community in rural P.E.I. and with more time it will only get stronger; just like Tyne Valley’s Oyster Festival.
The community has its collective heart set on 10,000 visitors for the event. It’s a large number but not one that is out of the question for the Green Park Shipbuilding Museum in neighbouring Port Hill on Aug. 2.
Hopes are high, let’s hope results are too. It will be good for other similar-sized communities to see what can be done and will no doubt inspire a few others. Even if only a few are successful, it will be good for the whole Island, and considering how important tourism is to this part of the world, that’s good news.