Summerside’s Lobster Festival kicks off Monday. That’s right, ‘festival’ not ‘carnival’ as it has been known for many years.
Why the change? Because sometimes change is good. Why now? Because those who wait often get left behind.
The reincarnation of the western city’s lobster extravaganza became necessary, if not long overdue.
The former Summerside Lobster Carnival had been a mainstay here for nearly 60 years. The event had many ups and downs over the years but unfortunately it had become stale in recent times and the volunteers who ran it, tired.
These men and women had given much of themselves in helping their community come together to celebrate one of our most well known symbols – the lobster. It was an onerous task; one that required a lot of time and effort for a number that was becoming fewer and fewer each year. They needed help, they asked for it, but little came.
That is until, thankfully, the city recognized the importance of the festival to the community’s brand and stepped in. Civic leaders began a hunt for an executive director and a short time later hired Don Quarles. And what did Quarles do? He set to work to save the ‘festival.’
Today the Summerside Lobster Festival has a new name, a new logo, new attractions, and new partnerships. Quarles is leaving his mark. He even changed the day of the week for the lobster festival parade, returning it to its traditional Monday, from Saturday when it had been held for the past few years.
Make no mistake, his changes won’t all be successful. But to do nothing would be even worse. These changes deserve a chance and ought not be judged too harshly until they have been experienced. Will the parade work on Monday better than Saturday? We don’t know, but we do know this: it’s worth a try.
To be even more optimistic, maybe the citizenry and business community will embrace the new parade plan and shut down operations for a couple of hours to let those who do have to work head down to the parade. It happens in Charlottetown with the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade and one would be hard pressed to call that unsuccessful.
With a full-time organizer and the support of the community who knows where this could go. But for now, at the very least, we’re counting on them to create a future for an event whose future looked bleak not so long ago.