The 2018 Rock Island Music Festival opened to a sultry, foggy Friday morning, Aug. 10. Thanks to an enormous tent that covered everything but the stage, even the threat of thundershowers in the forecast did little to deter people from attending.
“As far I know, we had Come Home Year in 1989, which was the first one,” says Ramea Mayor Clyde Dominie. “From what we’ve all discussed and what I can recall, 1991 is when the Ramea Rock Island Music Festival actually started.”
The festival has become an important annual fundraiser for Ramea’s fire department, which runs the weekend long event in partnership with the ladies’ auxiliary. The festival offers a weekend long selection of music, dance, prize draws and a reason for former residents and tourists to return each summer.
“In ticket sales you could never raise what you can in one weekend event here,” offers Dominie.
But it’s not just the fire department which benefits. Other non-profit organizations run kiosks under the tent reap an economic benefit, not to mention the local businesses.
“It’s an amazing amount of money in the town for the weekend.”
A lot of that money comes via tourism.
“We’ve got a lot of yacht traffic in the harbour,” notes Dominie, who spent the day before chatting with one couple who sailed up from New York and saw the festival mentioned in a provincial yachting guide.
There aren’t a lot of places for tourists to stay in the tiny island town, and rooms tend to get booked up well in advance. Next year is Come Home Year, which will likely increase the competition for accommodations.
“You’d better book ahead,” advises Dominie. “I doubt if even now you’d get a place.”
July is not the best month to visit Ramea. It tends to get a lot of fog, but August and September usually boast the best weather according to the mayor.
Dominie originates from Cape La Hune, which was settled in 1963. Two years before that, his father moved the family to Ramea and served as postmaster and telegraph operator. Dominie attended school here, and eventually taught it as well.
“It’s a great place,” says Dominie. “It’s peaceful.”
He’s had relatives visit from Wales four or five times now and has even taken them down to Cape La Hune.
Dominie’s attention turns to the tourists wandering into the tent. He likes to greet them and welcome new faces to Ramea.
Later he will perform once again as a member of We Fellers. The festival lineup contains a lot of local talent to entertain the crowd, but they’ll get some time to celebrate too once other groups take the stage.
“Everything is right here in one spot. You can eat, drink, listen to music, dance and you can walk.”