Merigomish Funfest and cardboard boat race sees record attendance, fundraising totals
MERIGOMISH – It’s a rare thing when an events success is judged by the number of soggy cardboard boats on the shore.
Using this as a guide, the third annual Merigomish Family Funfest was a huge success. Around 400 people came to the wharf for music, food, family games and the signature event, the cardboard duct tape boat race.
Caedda Kimberley of Barney’s River emerged victorious from Merigomish Harbour, to the applause of the crowd and her teammate Kristen Dewar. Their cardboard boat, named the Sea Biscuit, was inspired by their love of horses.
“I’ve been riding since age three,” said Kimberley, who grew up on a farm with seven horses. “We spent three hours putting it together.”
During the thrill of the race, Kimberley lost her shoes and the horse-head, cardboard ornament all but disintegrated. As she approached the finish line, Kimberley was dragging Sea Biscuit behind her.
Kimberley’s mom Oonagh Enright was absolutely astonished at her daughter’s victory.
“There was no doubt in my mind that he team would emerge victorious,” she said. “You may not be able to lead a horse to water, but they proved you can lead one out of it.”
Peter Radcliffe, president of the Merigomish and Area Recreation and Social Association (MARSA) said this year’s Funfest had the best attendance and fundraising yet.
Last year’s Funfest was held in the community hall with the cardboard boat places taking place at the wharf. Ongoing renovations to the hall facilitated the move of the Funfest entirely to the wharf.
“All the funds raised today are for the restoration of the community hall,” said Radcliffe. “I’m really pleased at how the Funfest this year and it looks like we brought in over $3,000.”
The former one-room schoolhouse is undergoing improvements to the basement, siding, windows, insulation, roofing and interior finishes, as well as eco-friendly upgrades to the heating, lighting, water and electrical generation systems.
Music for the event included J.P. Cormier, Keith Mullins, conFUSION, Dave Gunn and daughter Katelyn, Brian England and Blue Flower Coventry.
“It was great to have J. P. Cormier come to this event for free,” said Radcliffe.
He noted that planning for the Funfest began at least six weeks ago and a date decided once the musical lineup was confirmed. While many volunteers are involved, Radcliffe noted that the majority of the planning is up to a six-member committee.
“Last year, the event fell on the same day as the dragon boat races in New Glasgow,” he said. “We wanted to try and prevent that again but as we know, that’s a difficult thing to do in Pictou County.”
Debbie Radcliffe was organizing the cardboard boat race and noted that it was the first time all the boats had returned to the shore. While some of the stricter rules of no Styrofoam or plastic parts were flouted by some, she noted it’s all about having fun.
“I hope we have even more participants next year,” she said. “Hopefully, it will become an event in its own right.”
Radcliffe was pleased at the event in its entirety and that the weather cooperated for the most part.
“Besides a little rain, it was a beautiful summer day and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.”
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