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The inaugural Bras d’Or Lakes Festival was officially launched at the Dundee Marina on Friday night, to kick off the Festival’s first event, the West Bay Regatta. Sailboats arriving on gentle breezes under perfectly blue skies were piped into the docks by long time resident and naturalist Wally Ellison. The opening ceremonies took place in the marina’s ‘Superdome’, specially decorated for the event with the Festival’s blue, white and green.
Tyler Germani, host and organizer of the West Bay Regatta, welcomed the enthusiastic crowd of sailors and introduced the evening’s guests.
First to speak was Steve MacNeil, the Deputy Warden for Richmond County, who described the Bras d’Or Lakes Festival as “a unique festival that brings together activities held in all four counties on Cape Breton Island. We encourage you to visit these different communities and participate in their local festivities.” He also reminded everyone to enter our online contest for the fabulous “Sail and Stay Getaway” prize package.
Then Bruce Morrison, Warden for Victoria County, came on stage and expressed his hope that “the Festival will build and grow over the years, to attract tourism and visitors from other parts of Canada and around the world to the beautiful Bras d’Or Lakes”. He went on to describe some of the events happening in Victoria County over the next two weeks, such as the Bras d’Or Lakes Regatta (August 1-7) and nightly entertainment in Baddeck, and various programs at Highland Village in Iona, including the Highland Village Day Concert on August 7.
Next, it was Steve MacNeil’s turn to describe some of the Richmond County festival events – the St. Peter’s Regatta (July 30 – August 1), the Concert by the Sea (August 5), and Nicolas Denys Days (August 1-8). A complete list of activities taking place across all four counties is available on our Events Calendar.
Then the ‘big moment’ arrived – with the long, resounding blast of a boat horn accompanied by loud cheers from the spectators, the wardens together officially declared the Bras d’Or Lakes Festival open.
To launch the West Bay Regatta, Tyler Germani and Robert Sampson, host of the former East Bay Regatta, were invited up on stage. Robert, with wife Ginny at his side, gave an emotional speech as he passed on the traditions and the trophies of the East Bay Regatta to Tyler. He concluded by urging the crowd to “Have a great time here – the hospitality is exactly the same as East Bay.” Tyler proudly accepted the trophy and also encouraged the crowd to “have a great time on the water this weekend”.
With that, the party got underway with an opening performance by Peter MacInnis, a singer/songwriter from Mabou. Then singer Nancy MacDougall (formerly of Dual Citizens) and her band kept the crowd dancing and partying til nearly 3 the next morning.
We’re looking forward to having just as much fun at the Festival’s closing ceremonies in two weeks’ time at the wrap-up of the Bras d’Or Yacht Club Regatta in Baddeck, on Saturday August 7.