If you happen to be in Cape Breton this weekend – updated

[See update below.] Don’t miss the Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival in Tarbot and St. Anne’s. The creators of this annual event, now in its third year, have put together a fantastic program this year.

On Friday night, last year’s Halifax Poet Laureate, Shauntay Grant, will premiere five spoken word pieces, commissioned for the festival and inspired by five sculptures by North River blacksmith Gordon Kennedy.

Several of the festival participants will present workshops Saturday, and the evening program includes readings by Nova Scotia native and Giller-prize winner Johanna Skibsrud, Inverness-born short story writer Alexander MacLeod, and music by the jazz quartet The Synchronics.

A Sunday panel includes Skibsrud and the Nimbus editor who brought her Giller-winning The Sentimentalists to publication.

Hats off to Gary Walsh and his crew for making the festival a don’t-miss event.


It’s a busy weekend in Cape Breton, to be sure. On Saturday night, there’s the island’s first nighttime arts festival, Lumière 2011:

Then at 3 p.m., Sunday, local song-stars RoSa, Alicia Penney, Flo Sampson, Debbie Mullins, Steve Fifield, Billie Yvette, and Maura Lea Moycott croon country ballads at Harmonies for Horses, a fundraiser for Rocking Horse Ranch, Rear Baddeck. Location: at the ranch.

[Update 2]

From 11 to 2 on Saturday, at 385 Alexandra Street in Sydney, CBC Cape Breton celebrates the broadcaster’s 75th year.

Contrarian and friends on blogging

Contrarian will be at the Inverary Inn‘s Thistledown Pub in Baddeck this evening to lead a discussion about blogging sponsored by the Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival, the group that organized this event last fall. In addition to an annual fall festival, the group plans a series of satellite events, of which tonight’s discussion is the first. I’ll be talking about the writerly (journalistic, aesthetic, ethical) aspects of blogging; Mike Targett will be on hand to backstop me on those issues, and to add his technical smarts to the discussion.

The pub serves supper from 5:30 to 8; The fireside blogging discussion, upstairs in the lounge, will begin at 7, followed by live entertainment at 8. So come any time before 7.

In Cape Breton this fall

GooseCove -s

– Carol Kennedy photo

Cape Breton’s Fall colors peak between the first and second weekends of October, and this year foliage tourists have four worthy festivals to chose from.

The Hike the Highlands festival offers 23 guided hikes in a variety of distances, difficulties, and locations around the Cabot Trail from September 11 to 20. The festival also features workshops on nature photography, GPS, and geocaching, together with various social and musical events.

The first annual inaugural Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival in North River, October 2 to 4, features readings and workshops by authors Donna Morrissey (Kit’s Law & What They Wanted),  Douglas Arthur Brown (Quintet), Bill Conall (The Rock in the Water), and Susan Zettell (The Checkout Girl). The always lively and welcoming musicians who populate the St. Anne’s Loop, including Paul MacDonald, Otis Tomas, and Ed Woodsworth, will be out in force for a cabaret on the festival’s opening night.

Over nine days from October 9 to 17, the spectacularly successful Celtic Colours International Festival will stage almost 50 concerts across the island draws, together with literally hundreds of affiliated cultural workshops, seminars, and community events. Visitors from all over the world come to Cape Breton for Celtic Colours, but curiously few from mainland Nova Scotia.

Finally, modesty does not prevent us from mentioning the Cape Breton Island Film Series, which presents 13 great independent films on 13 consecutive Thursdays, starting tomorrow night and running through December 3 at the Empire Theatre, 325 Prince Street, Sydney. Highlights include The Hurt Locker (September 10), Food, Inc. (September 17), Goodbye Solo (November 12, the festival’s annual benefit for L’Arche Cape Breton), and In the Loop (December 3).