The Summerside Lobster Festival is heading in a new direction and its impact is proving to be further reaching than the lobster carnivals of the past.
For 58 years the Summerside Lobster Carnival staged numerous events to raise money to fund programs offered by the Summerside Legion and the Summerside Rotary Club.
Both of those organizations withdrew as owners of the event and the City of Summerside has taken it over. In doing so, the city hired Don Quarles as full-time executive director and rebranded the event the Summerside Lobster Festival.
Earlier this week, a new event was announced for the festival that will be unique to festivalgoers, but, more importantly, will have a positive impact on local businesses and the Island’s lobster industry.
Go Lobster is a promotion involving 18 Summerside restaurants, each offering its own special lobster dish. While this may seem at best interesting, there is a deeper spinoff to the event.
The lobster industry can be a crapshoot at times. Fishermen are constantly dealing with price issues, processing issues, and governments, both provincial and federal.
Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association hit the nail on the head Monday when he said, “For us to be effective as an industry it will take more marketing and promotion by all the industry players to tell the world what a great product we have. We tend to think we are just competing with lobster from other areas, which we are, Nova Scotia, Maine and New Brunswick. However, we are competing against other proteins as well, chicken, beef and other seafood. That’s the reality of it.”
This new campaign is doing just that – showcasing Island lobster for the industry and as well promoting local restaurants to tourists and Islanders alike.
Go Lobster not only exposes consumers to new and exciting ways to eat lobster, it also gets local restaurants more involved in promoting P.E.I. lobster. Along with this area, new and more convenient products are being developed.
Revolution Media and the Summerside Lobster Festival showed real foresight and creativity in coming up with the Go Lobster campaign. So to did the province, the City of Summerside, the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association and the 18 participating restaurants for giving financial assistance to the event.
An initiative such as this is an example of how the industry players can come together to support a common fgoal. Many in the industry know it will take work in a number of areas to get our industry back on track. This is another positive start.