Rain doesn’t dampen enthusiasm for Rhubarb fest

Stewiacke Slueth, By Heather Hamilton

Published on July 9, 2014

Stewiacke and Area Community and Business Association looking for volunteers

Welcome to SUMMER! Rain or shine, we can’t complain — at least the only fires we need these days are for roasting marshmallows, not warming our homes!

The Winding River Art Gallery recently ran a contest celebrating “Marvellous Maritime Minis”. Twenty-five tiny pieces of art were on display at the Gallery and open for a public vote on their favourite petite painting. The winner was a 5 x 7 entitled Cliffs at Cape D’Or by Pat Whitehead. Congratulations to Pat and thanks to the 106 visitors who voted!

There’s always something to see and do at the Gallery so be sure to drop in at the lower level of Mastodon Ridge any day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., all summer long. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful artwork, paintings, photography and crafts from all around our region that are there to not just admire, but for purchase too. So come on out and support our local artisans. We’re very lucky to have such a cultural gem right in our own neighbourhood.


It’s a good thing rhubarb doesn’t mind soggy skies, because Stewiacke’s Ravenous for Rhubarb Festival seems to attract raindrops. Although a few events were postponed or didn’t draw quite the crowds that were hoped for, many other events were extremely popular — like the Anglican and United Church’s shared lunch and the rhubarb pie contest at the Foodland.

Fourteen pies were entered, all vying for the great prizes generously donated by the Foodland store. Festival organizers were delighted with the community response, as was the guest judge the Kilted Chef Alain Bossé. After much deliberation, scoring and re-scoring, prizes were awarded as follows: first place went to Holly Chapman, second to Brenda Pye, third to Lynn Melanson and fourth to Robin Stewart.

This year Chef Bossé had a little help with the judging. Fifteen-year-old Arthur Dodsworth was at the Chef’s side, learning what to look for in the perfect rhubarb pie. According to the Chef’s apprentice, it was an “amazing” experience. Apparently there’s a lot more to the perfect pie than taste alone.

But Dodsworth’s relationship with Bossé didn’t just begin at this year’s festival. He has always been interested in cooking and delights his family with his culinary skills on a regular basis. At last year’s Rhubarb Festival, the folks at the Stewiacke Library knew Dodsworth was interested in making cooking his professional career, and Chef Bossé was scheduled for a special event at the library. They encouraged Dodsworth to attend; he did and then followed the Chef’s activities at the festival for the rest of the day.

Bossé was impressed with his attentiveness and intelligent questions. They exchanged contact information and now Dodsworth has a wonderful mentor in the Kilted Chef. They communicate regularly through Facebook and Dodsworth has even attended a special cooking day at the Chef’s Pictou farm, along with other aspiring chefs. It was a full 12-hour day that began with sourcing local ingredients from fish purveyors, butchers, abattoirs and farmers.

The group learned to select the freshest seafood and vegetables, how to identify the types and cuts of meat, and even how to use the right knife the right way. And, of course, they had the opportunity to cook a fantastic meal in the Chef’s kitchen and enjoy the fruits of the day’s labour of love.

Dodsworth was the youngest in the group, but that didn’t inhibit his ability or his excitement. It was a day he will never forget and one that firmly cemented his desire to become a professional chef.

Chef Bossé loves to provide mentorship to young people such as Dodsworth. Although he’s quick to point out that professional cooking isn’t a terribly lucrative career, it’s an extremely enjoyable one. He is thrilled to meet people who share his passion for the many bounties of the earth and the many ways we can take pleasure from them.

After the pie contest, a small group gathered at St. Andrew’s United Church for an intimate conversation with the Chef where no cooking topic was out-of-bounds. From the choicest oils to use, to butter versus margarine, to honey and the bees that make it, to the best pick for your apple pie, Chef Bossé answered any cooking question put to him. And he even threw in a few little tips and tricks. It was a great opportunity for anyone — even a non-cook like me — to ask a question and not feel intimidated like you might in a more formal setting.

We even brainstormed around a few ideas for next year — and Chef Bossé promised to be there, too, so don’t miss out. Maybe Dodsworth will even participate in an amateur chef’s cook-off. Lots to look forward to, despite the weather!


Another great community project happening in Stewiacke is the work facilitated by the Stewiacke and Area Community and Business Association (SACBA). Through public input and ideas from their membership, the group has identified four key projects they’re pursuing. These projects are: business workshops and events, a newsletter, community resource centre, and a community market. At least one member of the executive has assigned themselves to each project and they’re looking to the SACBA membership and the community at large to join with them to create a project team.

Many of these projects are huge in scope and can only get off the ground with a strong and committed group of volunteers. If you have a special interest or expertise in any of these areas, or would like to share some ideas, please contact SACBA to be put in contact with the committee coordinator. SACBA can’t run these projects alone. It wants to work with the community to see these ideas blossom into real areas of growth and action for the benefit of the entire community.

You don’t have to be a SACBA member to be part of a project team. You just need to care about the Stewiacke area and have a particular interest in the project of choice. Contact SACBA to learn more. We’ll all benefit from these projects, so join in if you can. Call 902-639-1630 or email sacba001@gmail.com.     

Heather Hamilton has lived in East Stewiacke for more than 25 years and is an avid supporter of her community. If you have community news that the Stewiacke Sleuth should know about, contact her at stewiackesleuth@gmail.com.