Seafest 2019

Coming on May 18 – Seafest 2019

By Roy L Hales

With Cortes Island’s largest annual event fast approaching, I met with event organizer Kristen Schofield-Sweet. As it was a glorious spring afternoon., we sat at the wooden picnic table behind the radio station. When Howie Roman finished his program, “Anything Goes,” he joined us in a discussion of Seafest 2019 and what this event means to our island community.

“Seafest is now the biggest social event on the island. It seems to open the Spring Season. Its always been on the May long week-end. It started back in the late 1980s as a thank-you party for oyster growers. It was first hosted by Norm Gibbons and his wife Denise. At one point it even had a pancake breakfast attached to it. Seafest was at Smelt Bay Park, got too big for that area and moved to Squirrel Cove. It outgrew the area net to the Cove restaurant, moved to the Gorge Marina and has become a magical phenomenon.” – Kristen Schofield-Sweet.

Seafest 2019 poster

In the Podcast:

  • Kristen describes her first Seafest and why she eventually became an organizer.
  • What FOCI, the Children’s Forest and Cortes Island Volunteer Fire Department brought to the festival during the years they served as event partners. 
  • Do you need a ticket?
  • What Seafest gives back to the community
  • Anecdotes of Cortes Oysters showing up on menus around the world.
  • What musicians like Larry Hanson and Andy Vine have brought to the festival.
  • Some of the musicians in this year’s line-up.
  • A selection of “fishing” songs, gleaned with the help of Andy Vine’s Folk Club.

Cortes Island Seafood Association (CISA) held the first festival back in the late 1980s, and now more than 10% of the island’s adult population volunteer their time to make Seafeast happen every year.

Seafest 2019
Seafest Cook Tents – courtesy Kristen Schofield-Sweet

“It must have been three or four years ago that I started coming Friday to help set up the tents, I love it. It is just a fun two hours and to watch that thing happen. I really enjoy it. This year I am part of the sponsoring organization (Whaletown Community Club) just by default, but I’d do it anyway.” – Howie Roman.

“I think what matters most to us, and to the growers, is that the islanders enjoy coming. It isn’t an event to just make money and add to the tourist load for one week-end in May. I think if for some reason our friends and neighbours stopped coming, that would be the reason to stop it.” – Kristen Schofield-Sweet.

Seafest 2019
Seafest photos courtesy Kristen Schofield-Sweet


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