The annual Harvesters’ Dinner has been revamped this year to guarantee that, for one, the thousand or more seasonal labours throughout Blue Mountain and Meaford have an opportunity to join in and, secondly, to be sure that as many as possible are thanked for the work they do in pruning, tending, and harvesting the areas’ apple crops.
This year’s Harvesters' festival will extend over two days - a Harvesters’ dinner at the Rotary Harbour Pavilion in Meaford, from 5 -10 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, and a dominoes tournament at the L.E. Shore Library in Thornbury on Sunday, September 15, noon till 4 p.m. The changes are intended to widen the circle, according to organizer Fayard Johnson (aka Cliff), to reach out to all harvesters in the Blue Mountains and Meaford. Organizers have decided to change things around every year, with a major and a minor celebration alternating between Blue Mountain and Meaford. This year, the dinner will be in Meaford and the domino tournament in Thornbury; next year, the dinner will be in Thornbury and the tournament in Meaford.
Grace United Church and St. George Anglican Church in Thornbury have joined forces with Christ Church Anglican in Meaford to host the annual harvester celebrations.
The idea for a community celebration to thank the harvesters stems from one seminal moment eight years ago, according to Fayard. “A chap was out walking and stopped to chat with a harvester,” he said. “They struck up a conversation and the chap invited the harvester for dinner.”
The dinner on September 14 will feature live entertainment with the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra, four food stations offering jerk chicken, fish, Mexican dishes, and Ital, a popular Rastafari-style cuisine that includes non-processed food from the ground. “There will be no entrance fee,” said Fayard. “There will be a charge for the food and donations will be gratefully accepted. Dinner will be free for the harvesters. Rain date: September 21.”
As in the past, proceeds from the evening will go to a harvesters' fund that is used to assist the harvesters while in Canada, as well as community projects back home in Jamaica, the Caribbean islands, and Mexico. “Bicycles are the main source of transportation for the harvesters here and many of them are riding their bikes late at night without proper safety items.” Fayard said. “We hope to purchase some proper safety gear for them.”
Photo: The Northern Lights Steel Orchestra will perform in Meaford at the Rotary Harbour Pavilion during the annual Harvesters’ Dinner on September 14, 5-10 p.m. This year’s dinner is co-sponsored by Christ Church Anglican (Meaford) and Grace’s United and St. George Anglican (Thornbury). A domino tournament will follow on Sunday, September 15, at the L.E. Shore Library in Thornbury. Photo courtesy of Fayard Johnson.