By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES — The first weekend in August saw the return of Astrolabe Days after COVID-19 forced a cancellation of the longstanding annual event. During the three-day celebration, the town celebrates local heritage, including performances by local musicians and various activities for all ages. This year, the festivities were scheduled from July 31 to August 2.
This year’s was the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the astrolabes. Wayne Mushrow, who discovered them in the 80s, returned this weekend to promote his new book, Amazing Ancient Astrolabe Adventure.
Unfortunately, due to the poor weather over the weekend, the music at Scott’s Cove was cancelled on Friday, Zumba with Amanda Matthews on Saturday was postponed, and the fireworks scheduled for Monday were delayed until Tuesday night. Music at Scott’s Cove on Monday was also postponed.
“The weather has not been good to us,” noted Shauna Strickland, Recreation Director and Economic Development Strategist for the Town of Channel-Port aux Basques.
The pandemic also had an impact on the scheduled events for Astrolabe Days this year. In previous years, many more activities and games took place at Scott’s Cove Park, like the highly popular dunk tank. Due to the protocols that came into practice thanks to COVID-19, many of these activities had to be curtailed.
“The family fun day brings people out for a fun afternoon of games and music, but with regulations on social distancing, rules on cleaning frequently used items, and trying to organize games, ensuring everyone’s safety would have been a challenge this year,” said Strickland.
Nonetheless, there were still plenty of options to help residents mark the occasion. On Friday, kids attended arts and crafts at the Bruce II Sports Centre. Later in the afternoon at the Railway Heritage Museum, Melissa Samms hosted a free storytelling show that offered tea and traditional Newfoundland pastries. Saturday morning included a ‘Free Kiddie Gym’ at the Bruce II and a free open swim.
On Sunday there was a Free Heritage Boat Tour in the afternoon, and the Railway Heritage Museum hosted author Wayne Mushrow’s book launch.
“The first one I found was in November 26, 1981, and was made in Portugal by Joas Dyas in 1628. They said it was in mint condition, and could fetch a considerable sum on the world market. Two years after that one in the exact same spot I found the second one. There’s no other one like it in the world. It’s made by Adrian Holland in 1617,” said Mushrow.
Monday saw a free ‘Connecting Youth with Culture’ session at the museum for ages 10 to 12, providing the kids with fun train facts, crafts, and snacks. There was also a free senior appreciation event at the museum addressing self-care. There was also some music at Scott’s Cove once the weather allowed.
After delays, the music at Scott’s Cove returned on Tuesday evening, featuring Saltwater Sounds, with the fireworks occurring 20 minutes before the scheduled 10:00 PM time advertised, which seemed to frustrate some residents who posted about it on social media.
Strickland said that attendance for the events was low compared to other years, though the boat tour on Sunday was particularly popular.
The low attendance for the celebration this year was also noticed by kiosk operators at Scott’s Cove.
“Well for starters, we didn’t have the weather. Pretty much what goes on here now seems to take place in the stadium or up at the train-site. Years ago – I’ve been here for that many years I can’t even count – but for all the years that I’ve been here it’s all took place, Astrolabe Days, it all took place down here. Games, everything for the kids,” said Geraldine Fudge, of A&D Down Home Cooking.