31 August 2014 | posted at Sydney, B.C.
Photo: The annual Blackberry Festival at Westview near Powell River
“Are you here for the Blackberry Festival?” the man behind the counter in the Westview Harbour Marina asked us when we checked in.
“Blackberry Festival?” We hadn’t even heard of it. We had stopped at Westview because it was a convenient stop between Parker Harbour, where we had been the day before, and Pender Harbour, where we planned to go the next day for their Chamber Music Festival. I hadn’t thought of Westview, the bedroom community for the pulp mill at nearby Powell River, as a festival town.
“It starts at 6 pm,” the man told us. He turned and pointed through the window to a street up the hill. “They close the main street.”
Six o’clock was still a few hours away. We decided to take a walk and explore the town. Already, businesses were busy setting up tents on the sidewalk. Walking along the sidewalk we saw several appealing restaurants, including a South American restaurant. We wondered what the chances of eating there during the festival were.
Six o’clock found us strolling the street with what must have been several thousand other people. Where did they come from? We hadn’t realized the town was so large. “The whole town turns out for this,” a resident told us. There were families with babies in strollers and toddlers in hand, children carrying balloons and eating (blackberry flavored?) cotton candy, teenagers in tattoos and T-shirts and old folks with canes. They strolled by tents selling everything blackberry plus anything else the owners might want to sell. Musicians playing jazz, rock, and folk seemed to be everywhere.
I stopped to stare at a blackberry pizza ready to go into an oven.
The South American restaurant had a large tent set up on the street in front of their building. We sat down and ordered blackberry margaritas and chicken tacos. The tacos weren’t bad but the margaritas were a bit sweet. Across the street two men wearing bakers hats in a Safeway tent were giving away cupcakes as fast as they could squeeze frosting on them. We each got one for dessert.
We finished our dinner and walked on, enjoying the bustle of the festival. When we returned to our boat an hour later, the festival was still going on.