GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, N.L.
Wendy Nuttall has plans for a new and exciting way to close out the tourism season in northern Newfoundland.
The come-from-away has been organizing for the Great Northern Viking Festival, to premiere on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in October 2019. Nuttall hails from Saskatchewan but has made the Great Northern Peninsula a part-time home the past few years.
The festival is scheduled for Oct. 3-6 and Nuttall is hoping it will become an annual event. Across the four days, the organizer is looking to include events in various communities from Cook’s Harbour to L’Anse aux Meadows to Goose Cove, and most everywhere in between.
She has taken an interest in tourism in the area and she has felt a pressing need to have something to mark the end of the tourism season.
She told The Northern Pen she conceived the idea for two reasons.
Firstly, Nuttall felt there was nothing for tourists to do upon the closure of the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in October.
“(The national site) always closes Friday and then Saturday morning (tourists) were wondering what to do,” she said. “They’re on holidays, they think they got a weekend. And I had nothing to offer.”
Nuttall said she could point them to year-round businesses in the area but there wasn’t anything else.
Secondly, Nuttall felt there needed to be something to mark the end of the tourism season.
“The Iceberg Festival kicks us off beautifully (in June) and then there’s nothing in the fall,” she said.
She found inspiration in the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton.
“Each little town has their venue or their favourite artist or whatever they decide to put on,” she said about that festival. “It goes around the whole island. So why can’t we do that here?”
She hopes there will be events in each town, showcasing what each community is all about and allowing tourists to choose which events they’d like to attend.
One of the big ideas Nuttall has is a “Great Northern Viking Breakfast”. This would include a seven-course meal served over two hours, and an education on wine. It will be a social event that will allow attendees to learn about wine making and pairing it with certain foods.
Nuttall has other ideas for a pub night, a Newfie night screech-in, mummering, and Viking saga storytelling.
She will be contacting re-enactment groups to put off a play, ideally at the Royal Canadian Legion in St. Anthony.
Those are just some of the ideas Nuttall has.
The festival will also require more planning and cooperation with the local business community.
Nuttall is currently making the rounds, speaking to businesses to look for support and consulting about potential events.
Ford Blake, Terry Hedderson, Thelma Hedderson, Burden’s Store and JK Roadside Convenience are some of the local people and businesses who are partnering with her so far.
Nuttall’s aware that certain businesses can’t continue operating into October but she still hopes to create opportunities to involve them as well.
She suggests having advertising for these businesses, perhaps creating a video so tourists can see what they have to offer.
“It comes around to that old thing that fishermen said years ago, ‘No one visits Newfoundland once.’ I know if they’re here in October, they’re going to leave and they’re going to want to come back,” she said. “If they see your business there, it gives them an opportunity to call you earlier in the next season. So, it is an opportunity for your closed business, even in October.”
Nuttall’s ultimate goal is for this to bring money to the area and to incorporate the people and businesses of the area as much as possible.
She is looking for sponsorships and hopes to hold fundraisers leading up to the event.
Anyone looking to learn more about the Great Northern Viking Festival can contact Nuttall by phone at (709) 623-2869 or by email at email@example.com