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Community Tourism & Cultural Celebrations in Yarmouth, NS and Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Not only does guest author Sandra Phinney introduce us to a spectacular food and tourism experience in her home town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but she shares the story behind why this year's Seafood and Wine Extravaganza, August 9-11, 2019 will have a "Twist of Jamaica". The story is one of an offbeat tourism experience and connection that created the possibility to exchange and celebrate the food and culture of both Yarmouth and the charming, sustainable, community - based tourism destination of Treasure Beach, Jamaica.  We love when people and places come together (that's why we travel) to make great things happen and are excited about the two additional events the original conversation inspired - Yarmouth's 2019 Seafood and Wine Cultural Exchange in September and the follow-up Treasure Beach's Food, Rum and Reggae Festival in October. Plus, we think you will enjoy discovering Treasure Beach and Jakes Place - incredible spots for a responsible vacation getaway!  


Nissa P. Chopra (lawyer, writer, humanitarian), is known for her expertise on luxury travel. She says that that luxury travel is about the experience, not just the appearance, adding, "Luxury travel may be glamorous, but not always meaningful. Local culture may not always be glamorous, but it's always meaningful."

I've often believed that local culture is something to value and celebrate - and that includes our own culture, as well as others. This is why I'm especially excited about a Jamaican cultural exchange that's taking place in my home town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

First, a bit of background.  When the seaside town of Yarmouth geared up to celebrate its 250th anniversary back in 2011, local residents Ken Langille and Carole Bojarski co-chaired the planning committee. Along with creating a roster of general events to commemorate that historic year, the notion of having a special "something" to celebrate Yarmouth's fishing heritage came up. What about staging a 1-day Seafood & Wine Extravaganza? All agreed - but it quickly morphed into a 3-day affair.

This "Extravaganza" was so popular, it was repeated each August. Now, in its eighth year, the festival continues to kick off on a Friday night with lobster/steak fundraiser on the waterfront for the Victoria Order of Nurses. Saturday features Seafood Splash (also on the waterfront) whereby ten service organizations come together to serve mouth-watering seafood specialties. The final event on Sunday is the Seafood & Wine Extravaganza at the Rodd Grand Convention Centre where celebrity chefs do demos, and local restaurants and eateries strut their stuff. This event also features wineries, breweries, craft cider, and handmade spirits. Carole Bojarski says, "It's the biggest, most wonderful, great big cocktail party of the summer!"

This year, there's a new component: "Twist of Jamaica." In a nutshell: Each day (Aug. 9 -11) will feature tastes from Jamaica - a teaser if you will, to the second round of Extravaganza coming up Sept. 7-8 in Yarmouth, when a full-blown Jamaican food and cultural exchange takes place.


Carole explains, "Last winter, while vacationing in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, and having lunch with Jason Henzell, Chairman of Jakes Hotel, my husband and I started talking about Extravaganza and how much fun it is. Jason mentioned he's always wanted to do a "Food, Rum & Reggae" festival ... would we be willing to help them do this for the Heroes Weekend in October?  Of course, we said 'yes'!"  (This is a very special time for Jamaicans when they celebrate six heroes and a heroine, remembered for their deeds that led to greater freedom and betterment for Jamaica.)

But here's the clincher:  the conversation between Jason, Bob and Carole, morphed into two more events - one in September in Nova Scotia, followed by one in Jamaica in October.

Sept. 7 and 8, Chefs and tourism operators from Jamaica will be in Yarmouth for the 2019 Cultural Exchange Jamaica. Feature events include: "On the Rocks" at the Yarmouth Lighthouse on Saturday where you can expect some spectacular seafood- Jamaican style - along with music, a guided tour of Leif Erikson Park, and a special Dark Skies program. The Sunday event, "On the Shore" takes place at the West Pubnico Golf and Country Club (an Acadian landmark) featuring Cook Shop 101- a chance for participants to cook with renowned Jamaican and local chefs. 


But that's not all! Anyone who would like to carry on in Jamaica is invited to sign up for a trip to Treasure Beach Oct. 19-21 to take part in National Heroes Day. Part of the weekend celebration will be the "Hook 'n Line" fishing tournament as well as a "Food, Rum and Reggae" festival. Several chefs and participants from Nova Scotia will be part of the festivities. Consider yourself invited!


Future exchanges? You bet. The vision includes Italy in 2020, and South Africa 2021. Carole adds, "Our plan is to bring as many visitors as we can from around the world to our neck of the woods in Yarmouth. We want them to learn how we live, work, and play, and then have the opportunity to do the same in a new and different country. It's all about sharing cultures and savouring the differences."

Postscript: You'd better plan on spending more than three days in Yarmouth. Although it's a small town (pop. 6500) it has a big heart. It also has a major provincial art gallery, five museums, a theatre, a working waterfront, beaches, and lots of places to hike and enjoy the out of doors.

Yarmouth also enjoys being in close proximity to neighbouring Acadian communities which have deep roots, a fascinating culture, and their own events and festivals. Why, some people have come to this part of the world for a vacation - and returned to live!


The author wishes to thank the following for providing photos: Debbie Roberts, Anneke Brown, Jakes Hotel, Jamaica; Yarmouth and Acadian Shores.

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