New Brunswick has earned its fair share of nicknames from Canadian residents living outside the province that we call home. Such examples include “Canada’s armpit”, “the province where fun goes to die,” as well as “Canada’s great Atlantic pit stop.” Whilst there is some truth to these nicknames for three quarters of the year, it’s the one quarter that we really cash in on! That’s right ladies, gentlemen, and gender non-conformers, it’s the Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, the most exhilarating time of year! As Colin Cyr, member of local Fredericton band, The Stone Masons, said jokingly in an interview “Harvest is the only good thing about living in Fredericton.”
The legendary festival that calls our province home has recently concluded with some ups and some downs. The upside was that the city streets were shucking, jiving, and tapping their toes to amazing bands and artists such as Neal Francis, White Denim, Stars, The Ally Venable Band, and Allison Russell throughout the first three days! The downside was that the festival organizers had to cancel day 4 due to the impending doom that was Hurricane Lee.
Ryan Sullivan, chair of the Harvest board came to this tough decision by concluding that keeping the people, as well as performers, safe was without a doubt the number one priority. There was very little doubt as to whether Sullivan had made the correct decision as winds had been recorded gusting up to 200 km/h, and were accompanied by a vicious tropical storm as it made its way up towards our lovely east coast.
Though Hurricane Lee may not have come to pass the way we might have expected it to, it was just enough of an inconvenience to miss out on the amazing talents that were scheduled for the final day of the festival. When it came to the possibility of moving the final acts inside, Brent Staeben, Harvest’s music director, had this to say to CBC News:
“There’s nothing really available that could handle the, you know, the crowds and the complexity of Harvest at this late … juncture.”
This concludes the emotional rollercoaster that was “Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues 2023.” We laughed, we sang and beat the alleged nicknames that people have saddled our province with. We ultimately let the pride and spirit of Fredericton shine through, strong and bright as always in the face of an impending disaster. Though the ending left a bittersweet taste in our mouths, I’m sure that Fredericton’s most famous festival will be back and better than ever next year!