I’ve lived in Newfoundland for 20 years now, and attending The Gathering Festival in Burlington, NL last weekend has been my favourite Newfoundland experience thus far. Really, this post/review won’t do the experience justice (seriously, just go next year and see for yourself), but I’m writing about it because I’ve run out of people back home to tell about it.
WHAT IS THE GATHERING?
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the festival, The Gathering is a 3 day festival that was started by comedian Shaun Majumder in his hometown of Burlington, NL as a way to show the government that his community could attract tourists and become a sustainable location for a high-end hotel (this was all featured in the first season of his TV show Majumder Manor). The festival aims to celebrate the best of Newfoundland culture by offering the best damn food and music you’d find in the province. Shaun and his crew offer experiences like a chef hike (a 45 min hike into a beach or cabin where you’re feed by one of the best NL chefs and entertained by amazing NL musicians), brook picnic, shed crawl, comedy show and jiggs dinner, plus two full days of music and food. There’s really not a better way to experience what Newfoundland has to offer.
WHY YOU NEED TO GO NEXT YEAR
One person might tell you to go for the food. I can’t deny that. I’m still dreaming about the salt meat poutine I was served last week. Some people might tell you to go for the music. But I’m telling you to go for the people.
There’s just something magical about the organizer of the festival being your province’s best known comedian. Seeing Shaun driving a truck full of supplies or jumping on a zodiac one minute, and then emceeing a dinner or posing for photos with fans/festival goers the next only added to the ambiance of the festival. Shaun isn’t someone who has simply given his name and street cred (er, I mean Bay Cred) to the festival and shagged off to warmer climates while the rest of the town rolled out the red carpet for us folks. Nope. Shaun was right there with us the whole time.
I honestly started to joke that he had cloned himself. And it just wasn’t that he was seen everywhere, doing everything. He made sure we were all having a good time. If he passed us on the street, he’d stop us to ask how we were and give us a pat on the back. He drank beer and danced with us on the shed crawl. He ate his meal standing around with a bunch of strangers and wanted to know how we felt after the 45-minute hike into the beach for our scoff. Shaun isn’t just the famous name behind this festival, he’s the heart and soul of what makes the festival a success.
But even in writing that line, I know that’s not entirely true because he doesn’t do all this by himself. The Gathering would be nothing without the committee members and residents of Burlington and Middle Arm. Are you drunk and need a lift from Tent City to the concert grounds? Stick out your thumb and jump into the back of Pat’s truck. Want your camping gear brought from your car to your camp site? Load it into the cart on Mckinnon’s ATV. Feel like a streel and need a shower, but can’t stomach the 2 hour line up for the ones they provide? Ask Barb and she’ll bring you over to her house, give you fresh towels, a hairdryer and straightener, plus give you a mug up afterwards. Seriously. That happened. I’m a Newfoundlander myself, who’s privy to the friendliness of our people, but my jesus did the kindness of the people of Burlington and Middle Arm not bring me to tears on a number of occasions.
I guess my point is this – Shaun Majumder and the people of his community are the reason The Gathering is so friggin’ amazing. The fact that the rest of the festival is filled with the best food and music this COUNTRY has to offer is simply gravy on an already delicious jiggs dinner.
Stay tuned for more posts about The Gathering.
Visit the official website for The Gathering –> HERE