Holyrood mayor hopes for record numbers for SquidFest

By Mark Squibb/July 8, 2022

Mayor Gary Goobie says that Holyrood is the place to be this summer — especially with the thirty-third annual SquidFest just around the corner.

“We had a tremendous Canada Day celebration Sunday past, and we had record numbers out,” said Goobie. “A lot of residents, and a lot of visitors, and so it was quite obvious that, if those numbers are any kind of indication, we’re certainly going to have a fantastic Squid Festival.”

The festival kicks off on July 13 with fun at Holy Cross Park and the party lasts until the July 17 fireworks. In between are BBQs, dances, outdoor movies, a pool party, an 8-kilometre road race and, of course, the Beach Party, headline by Shanneyganock and The Masterless Men.

As of Tuesday morning, the town had already sold around 2,000 tickets for the Beach Party.

“So, if that’s any indication, we’re going to have record numbers in Holyrood for our SquidFest,” said Goobie. “And God willing, fingers and toes crossed, the weather will continue as it has the last couple of weeks.”

The Beach Party has been a staple of the festival since it’s inception many years back.

“When we started the Beach Party many years ago, the average number at that event was around 300 to 400,” said Goobie. “And that was considered a good Beach Party. And over the last few years, the numbers have been going up exponentially.”

Director of Recreation and Community Events Steve Martin added the population of Holyrood numbers just about 2,500, making Beach Party ticket sales all the more impressive.

Martin has been at the forefront of planning the festival, the first major festival the Town has held in a post-pandemic restriction world.

“From an organizer perspective, the word I’ll use is refreshing,” said Martin. “It’s just good to be planning events without having to read government guidelines and ensure you have that layer of protection in place against COVID. It’s also great to have our volunteers engaged in the festival, community groups, various sponsors, and of course to see that residents have been really looking forward to a full-fledged festival.”

“A lot of work goes into these events,” Martin added. “And to not have that risk of being cancelled at any point helps a great deal with the planning of everything as well.”

That of course is what happened with the Town’s Crystal Carnival, which was cancelled days before the festivities were set to begin.

“Things were looking up and all the planning was done, and we were ready to go, and all of a sudden the (COVID) numbers went up and we couldn’t move ahead with certain aspects of the carnival, and so we made the decision we were going to cancel the carnival completely,” said Goobie. “So, as Steve has said, the risk is zero now, so we can go ahead, full force, and move forward with the festival like we always have.”

Along with the regular influx of tourists, the province is anticipating even greater numbers than usual due to Come Home Year celebrations.

Goobie said it’s hard to predict just how many folks will visit Holyrood this summer, as there are factors such as the ferry and the airlines that the town doesn’t have any control over, but he’s expecting quite a few.

And those visitors are good for business.

“When you have visitors and tourists coming to our town, whether its for a day or several days, to attend those events, they’re also doing other things in the community,” said Goobie. “They’re at the gas stations fueling up their vehicles and they’re eating at various restaurants. It’s an economic generator, right? So, there’s tremendous benefits for a lot of businesses in the community as well. And that’s what tourism is really all about.”

The Town hasn’t yet pinned down a dollar amount on how much they expect to take in from SquidFest and other summer activities.

“I think the important thing right now is seeing the return of events and seeing people out and about again and providing that service to residents, those recreational opportunities,” said Martin. “I think the biggest part of Canada Day was the community coming together and people seeing people they haven’t seen in a while.”

Both Goobie and Martin took a moment to thank the many town staff as well as the over one hundred volunteers who come together to pull off an event like the SquidFest.

“There’s a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating that goes into this,” said Goobie. “So, we certainly appreciate that.”

Martin added that tickets for ticketed events are moving fast.

“Get your tickets, make sure you have them, because once they’re gone, they’re gone,” he said.

Those tickets can be purchased at the town’s SquidFest website.

Once SquidFest wraps up, the town staff and volunteers are immediately jumping into planning for the first ever Holyrood RibFest.

That event, in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Newfoundland & Labrador, is scheduled for August 5-7.

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