Irish Moss Festival reducing events, while Potato Blossom Festival officially cancelled

Madison Perry was elated to be named Miss Irish Moss 2019. The pageant is one event that won't be happening during this year's Irish Moss Festival because of social distancing regulations. Tina Richard, recreation director for the Town of Tignish, said the hope is to hold the pageant at some point in the fall. Jillian Trainor photo

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The Irish Moss Festival in Tignish is still going ahead, but on a smaller scale than usual because of social distancing regulations.

“We can’t do a whole lot, but we are doing a park movie night for kids, and we’re also doing a flag hunt,” said Tina Richard, recreation director for the Town of Tignish. “It’s going to have Canada flags all over the town, with clues for finding each flag, and then our grad parade.”

The festival runs from June 26 to July 1. Some things, like the Irish Moss dance, the annual concert, youth competitions, and talent competitions won’t be happening because even as the province enters Phase Four of easing public health restrictions, these events will still exceed the maximum number for mass gatherings.

Ms Richard said some residents were disappointed some of the usual events couldn’t take place, but pulling those events together is a lot of work, and just aren’t feasible to run when the number of people allowed in is so small.

One of the biggest events of the festival, the Miss Irish Moss Pageant, will be happening, just not during the actual festival.

“The pageant is on hold,” said Ms Richard. “We are going to have it sometime, we’re going to start meeting our pageant girls very shortly, virtually, and hopefully in the fall we’ll be able to run a full pageant and we don’t think those girls should miss that.”

Another festival who’s fate was still somewhat up in the air is the Potato Blossom Festival in O’Leary. Andrew Avery, recreation director for the Town of O’Leary, confirmed the festival has been cancelled, but like the Irish Moss Festival, some aspects might still be happening, but it all depends on how many people can be allowed in an area while maintaining social distancing measures.

“I’m kind of hearing through the grapevine that (it will be) 50 (people, maximum) for the rest of 2020, right up until the start of 2021 is probably as far as we’re going to get,” said Mr Avery. “If that is the fact, it’s really going to put a damper on a few things, but we’re still focussing on trying to do things, whether it’s a virtual celebrations or a drive in event, we still have some things that are traditional and we’d like to continue on with, and if we can make it happen, we will.”

Ms Richard shared a similar sentiment, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Irish Moss Festival.

“It’s our 40th year, and that’s why we’re holding out,” she concluded. “We’re going to have our 40th year because we want our pageant queen. We’re definitely going to be having something, and maybe it will be an October festival. We’re not really sure, we’re waiting for guidelines to lift and things like that.”

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