High and Dry Festival hits Gagetown after historic flooding
Historic flooding up and down the Saint John River this spring devastated several communities, including the village of Gagetown. As a result, the High and Dry Festival was quickly organized to help kickstart the village’s economy and reinvigorate the community.
Planning began just five weeks ago as 60 volunteers were mobilized to help make the festival happen. Festival co-ordinator Paul Mennier says it’s nice to see the village come together.
“We thought if we threw a free party, maybe a whole bunch of people would come into the village and spend money in our restaurants and shops and boutiques so we built it, and now we’re waiting for them to come and they are coming,” Mennier noted.
Mennier says there has been solid financial support for the festival from the corporate community.
“There’s a certain sympathy factor for the businesses that were affected by the flood, and I think that shows a good sense of corporate citizenship that they want to step in.”
Carolyn White, president of the Gagetown Chamber of Commerce and festival volunteer, says despite the flooding, the community is still open for business.
“Come on down, you can still visit our shops, our boutiques and restaurants. We’re trying to infuse some action into the village because it’s been a really quiet summer.”
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Along with the flooding, the village lost its ferry a couple of years ago, resulting in a big drop in tourism. The Save the Gagetown Ferry committee took advantage of the opportunity to spread awareness.
“Everybody that comes by here today is angry about the loss of this ferry and has a story to tell about how the removal of the ferry has affected them one way of another,” committee member Hugh Harmon notes.
During the flooding, the Gagetown Fire Department worked tirelessly to help residents and businesses deal with the impact.
“Exactly where this whole festival is being held was completely under water,” said fire chief John Thomas. “To be able to do this and bring all the components together and basically have an opportunity to say hey, good work, because communities like this, that’s what makes them what they are.”
Organizers say as many as 3,000 people took part in the event.
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