Ladysmith Maritime Society offering three one-day festivals in 2013

The Ladysmith Maritime Society is presenting three separate one-day festivals this year, starting with the Ladysmith Seafood Fest May 19.

This year, the Ladysmith Maritime Society (LMS) is moving away from a weekend-long Maritime Festival and will offer something new for 2013 — three new somethings, in fact.

The annual Ladysmith Maritime Festival continues to celebrate the rich history of the Ladysmith harbour and local marine heritage, but it is being broken up into three separate events this year, LMS director Cliff Fisher explained in a presentation to council March 18.

“In the past years, the festival was a one-weekend, three-day event and was a significant attraction to local young citizens, parents and visiting tourists,” he said. “This year, we are planning three exciting one-day festival events during May and June that will individually attract a more diversified audience for each event, while providing more opportunities for Ladysmith’s businesses and community groups.”

The first event is the Ladysmith Seafood Fest — A Harvest of the Salish Sea Sunday, May 19 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Transfer Beach Amphitheatre.

“The Ladysmith Seafood Fest is a new festival addition to bring back to life the efforts of the Oyster Festival, which was a popular event in past years,” said Cathleen McMahon, a member of the festival organizing committee. “This event will centre around the presentation of oysters, clams, mussels, prawns and scallops.”

Local culinary experts and community groups will have a chance to showcase their best seafood recipes, and this family-friendly event will also feature a children’s craft area, live music, dancing, celebrity chef demonstrations, a seafood chowder competition, an oyster shucking contest and a wine and beer garden, she explained.

The next event will be the Ladysmith Kids’ Pirate Day Saturday, June 1 at the LMS Community Marina.

“Celebrating the popular activities our community’s children have enjoyed over the past five years, this special day will include our popular local and invited pirates, face painting, kids’ crafts, a bullhead derby, food, interactive musicians and family harbour tours,” said Fisher.

Partnering with the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association and Ladysmith Family and Friends once again, the LMS will still have pirate day promotions during the week before the festival, as well as the popular treasure hunt that draws young pirates into town to search for treasure at all the participating stores and businesses, he noted.

The third event being planned is a Ladysmith Maritime Heritage Day on Saturday, June 8 at the LMS Community Marina.

Fisher describes this event as “a favourite day for mariners and wooden boat enthusiasts, featuring marine heritage vessels dockside and on land, talks and shows given by key heritage boat writers, tours of the new marine heritage and cultural centre and our waterfront museum, harbour tours, marine swaps, food and music.”

These three different days are expected to draw three different types of attendees, noted Fisher.

“We found in the three-day festival we actually lost attendance on the second day or third day because it’s the same thing,” he said. “We look forward to your support in this new direction for the Ladysmith Maritime Festival Events umbrella, and we believe it will be a better product for the community going forward.”

Councillors were enthusiastic about the three events.

“I think it’s great to separate them out; it gives three different opportunities for townspeople to come to these events, and I think it’s just great,” said Coun. Jill Dashwood.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Coun. Glenda Patterson.

Fisher told council the three-day festival did cause some burnout for volunteers. Doing three smaller events is also cheaper because the society won’t have to worry about large expenses such as overnight security, he said, adding the society was left with $6,500 in gaming grants for this year.