A small flotilla of canoes and kayaks drifted down the Annapolis River from Middleton to Lawrencetown on Sunday. Family and friends on the glassy water tossed Frisbees, threw fishing lines into the water, had a few races, splashed each other, and viewed some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere. Just over the bank but well out of sight and hearing was Highway 1 -- but a world away. When the small boats slid into shore at a Lawrencetown riverside residence, there was food, drink, music, and lots of conversation. And a lot of the conversation was about the amazing afternoon on the amazing river.
Monday, hundreds of people converged on Lawrencetown for the 85th Annapolis Valley Exhibition whose grounds nudge that same river. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights crowds of thousands will head down to the John Longley Memorial Riverside Stage beside the river for yet another amazing experience.
Saturday night a thousand people gathered for the annual Moonlight Concert in Paradise for a magical time that included music, food, and even a wedding proposal. Again, the event was held on the banks of the Annapolis River.
Are you starting to see a pattern?
Of course everyone knows the beautiful Jubilee Park in Bridgetown, home of many summer events, including the Canada Day celebrations and great fireworks, nighttime movies and concerts, and home of Ciderfest and the famous Cardboard Boat Regatta. All those events take place on the edge of the Annapolis River.
Head downstream just a few kilometres to Hebb's Landing, a small riverside park where tourists and locals alike stop for picnics and to (as Bob Dylan would say) watch the river flow.
And of course there is Annapolis Royal where the Annapolis River finishes its run and where numerous events are staged throughout the year -- including fishing derbies, a sailing race, sailing instruction, and the many, many other events such as Natal Day, all the happenings at Fort Anne, Paint the Town (this coming weekend), and so many other celebrations it would take too long to mention.
The point is, all these events happen on the river, but done of them really celebrate the river upon whose shores many of Annapolis County's communities were originally populated -- back when the river was held in higher regard and was a major mode of transportation. It was important.
Not to take away from all of the many established events mentioned above, but perhaps it's time there was a celebration of the Annapolis River itself.
The river runs much like a narrative, telling the stories of the people and places along its meandering path. And it not only cuts through a beautiful and often-breathtaking geography, it slices through time and is one of the strong threads of our historic and cultural fabric. It is, or at least it was, what held the county together.
In celebrating the river, residents would be celebrating all communities -- from Wilmot, to Centrelea and Tupperville, to Round Hill and down to Annapolis Royal. A weeklong festival starting in Middleton -- including boating excursions and races, food and entertainment in towns and villages along the way, would celebrate the river and its people. Something to think about.