While other communities celebrate Groundhog Day with celebrities like Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie or Punxsutawney Phil, Annapolis Royal has not had such a traditional of its own. Residents are left to guess when spring will arrive, or to depend on the meteorological abilities of a groundhog that lives some 200 kilometres away.
But today that changed as visitors to the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market gathered by the Courtyard Bonfire to welcome esteemed prognosticator ‘Farmersmarket Phil.’ Now Farmersmarket Phil is not really a groundhog, but he is a bit long in the tooth and ‘Groundhog Day’ is one of his favourite movies. Add to that the fact that his mother’s birthday was on Feb. 2 and, well, clearly he was qualified for this challenge.
After being deputized as ‘Town Crier of the Moment,’ Alan Melanson greeted the crowd at 11 a.m. sharp. He noted that other communities herald Groundhog Day with a tradition that involves a furry animal and its shadow. “Alas Annapolis Royal has, for centuries, been lacking such a warm, furry, cuddly animal to face the sun -- or not, as the case may be -- UNTIL NOW,” said Melanson.
He then asked onlookers to join him in calling Farmersmarket Phil to emerge and to give his forecast as to how much longer Annapolitans must endure this winter.
Sure enough, Farmersmarket Phil emerged from the warmth of his cozy resting place and, much to the delight of the crowd, sauntered into the courtyard. He studied the sky, looked for his shadow, and when he had considered all this he gave his prognostication “Spring is JUST AROUND THE CORNER!” With that, and to roaring applause, Phil retreated to the warmth of his resting place.
One never knows what awaits during a visit to the Winter Market. The Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market runs every Saturday until May from 9 a.m. until noon at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal.
(EDITOR'S NOT: ‘Farmersmarket Phil’ is none other than Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market champion and one-time mayor Phil Roberts. While the disguise was good, it didn’t fool too many people. But what surprised them was that the former mayor’s retirement plans included weather prognostication. However they were quick to embrace a new tradition in the town.)