Shaun Majumder thanks performers at Saturday evening’s show in Burlington.
©Beth Penney/The Telegram
It’s not your typical festival – gourmet meals in the woods with musicians, sleeping in a lighthouse or under the stars in tent city
Shaun Majumder, one of Canada’s best-known comedians, was born and raised in Burlington, N.L., and spent many summers coming ‘OME’ to his hometown.
Majumder wanted to give others the amazing feeling that he experienced every time he returned to Burlington.
“There’s no place like ‘OME’,” laughed Majumder. “It’s all about reminding people of the cultural elements of this place, and all of rural Newfoundland.”
The Gathering festival is a true Newfoundland experience. From picking berries on the trails, to having toutons for dessert, and a shed crawl to finish off the weekend.
With comedy, music and food, there is something for all ages to enjoy.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe,” said Majumder. “It’s not about celebrities, or about which big act we have playing. It’s about quality, and everybody being equal, and involved.”
“Everyone in the community pitches in,” said Rudy Norman, ‘OME’ executive director. “One couple has been giving up their home to the same performers for the past four years.”
Norman was the opening act of Thursday evening’s comedy show.
“By no means am I a comedian,” laughed Norman. “But I was telling Shaun a story a few weeks ago, and he said, man, you’ve got to do that on stage. He believes in people, that’s just the kind of guy he is.”
Audrey Bartlett and Pauline Young are housekeepers for the ‘OmeSweetOme’ tents, but during The Gathering festival, they have a much larger job.
They clean accommodations and portable toilets for hundreds of guests throughout the weekend.
“We enjoy what we do,” said Young. “We get to meet people from all over the world.”
The pair say Majumder makes sure everyone in the community is as involved as they would like to be.
“Shaun has been the same way forever,” said Bartlett. “He was like it growing up, and I think that’s why everyone in the community wants to help out.”
Not only do both ladies clean up after the crowds, but they also invite them to stay with them during the festival.
“I have a few tents pitched on my lawn right now,” laughed Bartlett.
Singer songwriter Steve Poltz was one of Friday night’s musical guests.
Poltz incorporated a few of his personal experiences in Newfoundland, into his performance on Friday night.
“I love to engage with my audiences,” said Poltz. “The best way to get them to warm up to you, is by relating with them.”
Poltz told The Telegram that recently while he was visiting Newfoundland, someone approached him and said “Who the frig knit you by?” He was so confused, he decided to write a song about it.
“Once they warm up to you, they’ll do things for you that they might not normally do,” said Poltz.
Poltz’s final song was a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”, where he unplugged, and made his way down into the crowd.
Strangers swayed arm and arm, and sang along together.
“I’m getting teary-eyed again just talking about it,” said Poltz.
Saturday afternoon consisted of perhaps the most traditional Newfoundland event – a shed party.
Rex Goudie joined with other musicians, led the crowd around Burlington, where locals invited them in for a scoff and a scuff.
The Gathering closed out on Saturday night, with music from Sherman Downey, The Once and headlined by Joel and Bill Plaskett.
The relaxed atmosphere, culinary delights, and world class musicians all coming together in a town with a population of 315 people is truly a unique experience.
The Gathering is an adventure worth taking.
Audrey Bartlett (left) and Pauline Young (right) are housekeepers for the ‘OmeSweetOme’ tents.
©Beth Penney/The Telegram