GRAND MANAN – Grand Manan has a new festival, as well as a new tourism organization to help the island prepare for the more than 10,000 tourists that come each summer.
Joanne Brown is new to council, but in almost a year on board, she says she is “getting the hang of it.”
“Born and bred” on Grand Manan, Brown says she sought election because “it was the best way to serve my community.” Brown is the chair of the new arts and culture committee. The committee was created, and council budgeted $10,000 in that area because, as Brown says, “arts and culture often gets put on the shelf.”
One or the first actions of the committee has been to create a new festival for the island. Previously there had been a Grand Manan Rotary Festival on the first long weekend in August. Brown says the organizers “were getting old. It was more of a chore than a joy.”
However, a festival was needed; in addition to tourists, “a lot of people came home for that weekend,” Brown says.
A contest was held to name the new festival scheduled for July 29 to 31. It was announced by Brown at the March 14 council meeting that Luke Morse’s suggestion of Island Fest was the lucky winner. “We [the Arts and Culture Committee] expect to be an umbrella committee and have everyone organize their events under us,” says Brown. “That way we can make sure that there are not two things are going on at the same time, and that everyone has space and a place for their event.”
A concert has been organized on the Saturday evening with Backyard Music, Brown says. She also hopes the festival will receive support from other organizations so that they can hold fireworks. “It’s expensive,” she says, “but everyone looks forward to it.”
One thing Brown is certain of is that the festival will be busy.
“You’re hard pressed to find a place to stay or a place to eat on that weekend.”
Grand Manan Island Tourism
Garrett Travis is also from Grand Manan. He studies business at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton and in the summer helps the Boys and Girls Club Grand Manan run Anchorage Provincial Park. Travis is the membership coordinator of the new Grand Manan Island Tourism, an organization that had a soft start in July 2021.
“One issue facing Grand Manan tourist organization,” Travis says, “is that the old group had aged-out.
“There was no real functioning member-oriented group to promote tourism without Grand Manan Tourism and Chamber of Commerce,” he adds.
A small group of five people came-up with an outline for Grand Manan Island Tourism (GMIT) and went into action for the last half of the summer last year. They presented bylaws and an executive was elected. Fees were set at $20 for the first season, “just to cover costs,” Travis says.
This year, the GMIT will hit the ground running with programs in place. The group is holding an open house at the village council chambers at 7 p.m., Thurs., April 14 to let interested tourist operators know what the plans are. In addition to “a full web site,” Travis explains one of the programs that will be offered, “a ticket to fun.” Visitors can go to different areas, complete the nine-square passport, drop it off, and hope to hear at the end of the summer they have been chosen to win a full tourism package valid the following year. GMIT has also purchased the rights to an island map and is working on updating it.
For businesses, Travis encourages local tourist operators to join as “now there is a group there promoting their business.”