By RYAN KING
CODROY VALLEY — Celebrations for St. Ann’s Day has returned to the Codroy Valley thanks to the organizing efforts of Father Andrew White. The celebrations began at the St. Ann’s Parish with a Mass at 3:00 p.m. Following the mass at 4:00 p.m., a procession carried the statue of St. Ann to the social centre, led by George Cormier on bagpipes.
In and around the social centre guests were able to enjoy a car show, barbecue, a petting zoo, cotton candy, shopping at local vendors and crafters, enjoy fireworks in the evening, and a visit to a tent housing the statue of St. Ann.
The celebrations were obviously welcome to everyone in the community, as the turnout was incredible despite the sporadic light rain.
“We actually packed the church up to only capacity. It’s really nice. Normally, we only get three or four on a Monday, if any. We got several hundred showing up here for the festivities. I have firm belief that the rain will turn away, and we will have fireworks,” said Father White.
St. Ann’s Day, which celebrates the grandmother of Christ, used to be a big celebration in the Valley, but interest in it had waned in modern times, and the pandemic interrupted it, as it did so many other festivities.
“This was a big thing in the Valley for over a hundred years, but it dried up, from what I hear, about fifty or sixty years ago. And I figured a good draw would be a car show, because I’m an antique car guy myself,” said Father White.
The antique cars on display were as impressive as they were varied, with many Volkswagens on show, including Father White’s green ‘68 Beetle. Others drove in from as far as Corner Brook and Stephenville to allow enthusiasts to enjoy viewing their cars and answer questions.
“It’s nice to see the community come together,” said Father White.
Ed Bannister drove in from Meadows to display his stylish ’55 Chevy for the event.
“It’s a Bel Air, two-door hard top. It started out as a four-door sedan, and I made her a two door. I completely rebuilt her. I went across Canada with it in 2017, over and back. I’ve driven it 31,000 miles. We were on three or four tours across Canada, and we’re on another one again next year, with the same car and the same trailer. I did all the work on it myself. I was a body-man for about 50 years,” said Bannister.
Rod Penney also drove in from Summerside with a unique looking Volkswagen truck.
“It’s a Transporter, originally from Goose Bay. It went to St. Anthony and it was there for 10 years. The guy I was trying to buy it from didn’t want to sell, but I phoned up later on in years, and he sold the vehicle to his brother. So, I called his brother, and his brother was interested in selling it. I saved the vehicle, because what he was going to do with it was, he was going to take all the sides off it and use it in a sawmill to put logs across it. So, I brought it back to Corner Brook, and I shipped it to Jeff’s Old Volks Home in Chester, Nova Scotia, and she went through a two-year build. She was changed from an automatic to a standard, and took the boxer engine out and now I have 1.9 TDI Diesel, with custom built pumps, headers, and everything. So, it’s quite the vehicle,” said Penney.
Another unique vehicle was brought in by Gerry O’Quinn, a Volkswagen ‘Thing,’ originally manufactured for the West German Army.
“This one here, I picked it up and brought it home from Florida. Other than that, I don’t know. I’m after doing a bit of work, but it looked good when I brought it home. It’s a retro vehicle, I think, that they reproduced back in ‘73 or ‘74. They only made them a couple of years, so not many were made. The only other ones I ever saw around was in the movies,” said O’Quinn.
The car show was without a doubt a big draw for the crowds that had gathered at the social center for the festivities, but equally popular were the vendors inside the center selling homemade crafts, and the petting zoo that featured goats, rabbits, chickens, and ducks.
Overall, it was easy to see that the efforts of Father White had invigorated St. Ann’s Day in the community. The sentiment was one that Peter Murray agreed with wholeheartedly.
“He’s starting to rebuild here. It’s the first time they had a celebration of St. Ann in 60 years, and it’s the Church of St. Ann. I’m surprised that all the people came out of the wood work. I mean the whole church was full, and that’s something new. With the new priest, he’s very enthusiastic,” said Murray. “He’s doing a great job.”