Dorchester’s Sandpiper Festival set for this weekend

Joan LeBlanc
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Hot-shoeing of horses was just one of the many historical displays at the Keillor House Museum's Heritage Days during the Sandpiper Festival last year in Dorchester.  LEBLANC PHOTO

DORCHESTER, NB – The village of Dorchester will be a busy spot this weekend as it hosts the annual Sandpiper Festival. The event will take place Friday through Sunday, July 25-27.

The great migration of sandpipers has already begun in Shepody Bay and along other regions of the Bay of Fundy and visitors will want to catch a glimpse of the little birds on their brief stopover in the region.

“The staff at the Nature Conservancy in Johnson’s Mills has told us that the birds are back and we encourage everyone to come out to see them and take in some of the many events we have to offer in Dorchester during the Sandpiper Festival this weekend,” chief festival organizer Hayley Wells said last week.

Leading off this years’ events is Dorchester Consolidated School’s 50th year reunion and organizers are inviting anyone who has attended the local school at any time over the past 50 years – both staff and former students and guests – to join in the planned festivities.

“We know there are people coming from as far away as BC to attend the reunion. Some people have planned their vacations around it, so it should be a good time for everyone,” she said.

Another new event is the ‘Gathering of Mason’s and Guests’ motorcycle show from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday

Upwards of 100 motorcycles are expected to arrive in Dorchester on Saturday, setting up at the rink on the school grounds.

“They’ll be having some great things to raffle off during the day and people will be able to look at the motorcycles; they’ll be coming from all over the province and everyone is invited to take part,” Wells said.

The local Masons will throw open their doors to the public from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and everyone is invited to drop by and find out a bit about this more than 175 year-old organization.

Also new for this year is the cookie swap. Bring a dozen or so of your favourite cookies and you’ll get to swap them for another dozen of different yummy treats.

“We really encourage all bakers to bring some of their cookies; it should be a fun event and you get to take home some different treats too,” she said.

Of course high on the list of events is the annual sandpiper mud shrimp chowder tasting, beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Bell Inn. The tasting will be followed at 1 p.m. by the festival’s official opening ceremony including the presentation of the Citizen of the Year award. A highlight this year will be the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s presentation of a skit entitled ‘Shorebird Talk.”

“We’re fortunate to have among the conservancy staff this year, some professional actors and they wanted to present this 15 minute skit about the sandpipers; so we’re really happy to include this in the opening events,” Wells said.

Many favourite events and activities are back at the Sandpiper Festival again this year, including the People’s Choice Photo Exhibit at the Dorchester Veteran’s Memorial Recreation Centre (formerly St. Ed’s Hall), 4955 Main Street. Drop by anytime over the three days and cast your vote for the best photo.

On Saturday and Sunday the village square will once again be filled with many vendors and booths and the new Sandpiper Stage will host the many musicians who will provide lively entertainment on Saturday and Sunday.

The popular Sandpiper Egg hunt will take place again this year, but with a slight change.

“Beginning Friday and ending on Sunday afternoon, people of all ages are encouraged to look around the village for the 14 sandpiper eggs which are hidden in various places. The eggs are wooden and it’s noted on them what they are, so people will be able to identify them easily. The person who collects the most eggs will win a prize,” Wells noted.

And after some technical difficulties with the Rubber Duck Race last year, this year’s race will sail smoothly ahead, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at Bayview Farm race track. Winner will receive 40 per cent of the gross sales, a minimum of $250.

The three-day festival will also feature a heritage fair at Keillor House Museum, museum tours of Keillor House and St. James Textile Museum, dances, games and activities for children, car boot sale, morning yoga in the square, bouncy castle and games, watermelon eating contest, prince and princess picnic, tour of EOS rain garden and information on building rain gardens and a whole lot more.

For the complete schedule of the 2014 Sandpiper Festival, check out the web site at or pick up a copy of the schedule at local outlets or the village office.

Organizations: Dorchester Consolidated School, Bell Inn, Keillor House James Textile Museum

Geographic location: Dorchester, Shepody Bay, Bay of Fundy Canada 4955 Main Street

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