Bedford Days is an annual family favourite, celebrating the community and marking the start of summer
Music, fireworks, and bouncy castles are highlights of Bedford Days for John Smith’s family. For 13 years, he’s lived in Bedford, not far from the DeWolf Park where many events happen during the five-day celebration. “It definitely brings the community together,” he says.
Smith is in his third year of volunteering year-round on the Bedford Days working group. “It’s kind of a natural,” he says. “We have a young daughter now, and we take her every year. They didn’t have to convince me it was a worthwhile event. I already knew the value.”
Before helping behind the scenes, Smith didn’t realize the effort needed to make the annual event happen. “There’s another whole level of community support and sponsorship that we wouldn’t be able to do it without those businesses and those people stepping up as well.”
This year’s celebration (June 27–July 1) will be the 42nd anniversary. Donna Lugar helped organize Bedford Days as a Town of Bedford employee before amalgamation in 1996. Now she is retired and a long-time volunteer working with HRM senior event coordinator Mike Gillett, Councillor Tim Outhit, volunteers like Smith, and sponsoring businesses.
“We have a lot of returning sponsors year, after year, after year that helps make this event happen,” Lugar says.
Events planned for opening night include a dinner and bingo for seniors at the Lions Club and the Kids Extravaganza including face painting, mermaids, and fireworks at DeWolf Park. Lugar says organizers aim to provide activities for everyone.
“The majority of Bedford Days is for families,” Lugar says. “Every year we try to incorporate some new things. It might be something little, but it’s always slightly tweaked, so it’s not the same old, same old, every year.”
Karen Muldowney-Doran lives within view of Scott Manor House, which hosts a free Georgian Tea during Bedford Days. “Bedford has grown significantly since I was a kid and it amazes me that there are things going on that are bringing people together that I don’t necessarily even know about anymore,” Muldowney-Doran says.
She remembers the early years of Bedford Days when, as a high-school student in 1982–83, she participated in canoe races down the Sackville River, portaging over the Bedford Highway, and back in the river again to paddle out to Lions Park. “I think we come second, right? Like, just a hair behind the boys,” Muldowney-Doran says. “It was really a tough race, but really a big deal during those summers and really fun.”
Muldowney-Doran’s adult sons are the fourth generation in her family to grow up in Bedford. When her boys were younger, Bedford Days was the summer kick-off for the swim team. Just as the range of Bedford Days events has shifted over the years, the family now enjoys the 19+ events like the Bedford Volunteer Fire Department Beer Fest and Rouge et Blanc at Sunnyside Mall.
“It’s been fantastic for the community for sure,” Muldowney-Doran says. “It’s nice for us old peeps to be able to see each other, but it’s really nice for new families to get to know the community and the people in the community in such a positive way.”
Musician Ed Grant joins Paul Tupper for the Ed and Paul Show at Rouge et Blanc. “We’ve been playing the Rouge et Blanc since the very first year they did it,” Grant says. “I always joke, Paul and I make a very good couple. He is a classically educated musician and can play any instrument, and I know how to entertain a crowd.”
Grant and Tupper “walk around like singing troubadours” from one end of Sunnyside Mall to the other. Grant says the most popular requested songs are East Coast-inspired, with “Farwell to Nova Scotia” being one of the most popular. “Wandering around, playing a guitar, and odds are I probably know some of the people that we’re playing for,” Grant says.
The 20-year resident of Bedford helps promote Rouge et Blanc. “I still find people every year that I’m telling about this,” Grant says. “The numbers have definitely grown over the years, and certainly since they moved it to Sunnyside Mall. It’s been a huge plus.”
Live entertainment is only part of the draw to this popular event that outgrew its original location at Basinview School. Restaurants and businesses donate food and wine, and organizers urge guests to wear red and white attire for the elegant evening. “Any time you give people a chance to sample some wine for free, you know, with some nice sample food from local vendors, it puts people in a good mood,” says Grant.
Colleen Acker attends Rouge et Blanc each year with a group of friends. “It’s amazing. You get to taste some wine and some nibblies from the different participants.”
Acker moved to Bedford in 1992 and says it’s a great community. Other events she’s enjoyed over the years at Bedford Days include Beer Fest, a pancake breakfast, a movie night, and fireworks. “It’s great for the entire family, and there’s even adult time. So, it’s the best of both worlds, and it’s really greatly organized.”
This year, Bedford Days ends on July 1, Canada Day. DeWolf Park is chockablock with events for the country’s birthday, beginning with a free pancake breakfast and ending with music and fireworks.
John Smith says volunteering on the working group and helping to organize the celebrations has given him a greater appreciation of Bedford’s strong community spirit. As “one of the newer members of the committee,” he sees how local businesses, HRM support, additional volunteers, and residents join in to make everything a success.
“A couple of years ago, the pancake breakfast on the first of July, it was absolutely pouring. Like just, you couldn’t ask for worse weather. And people showed up. They came anyways in the pouring rain,” Smith says. “And everyone was having a great time.”
Summer Reading Club Kick-Off Party
Bedford Public Library
10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Lions Club Seniors Dinner & Bingo
Free. Face painting, mermaids, fireworks.
Bedford Volunteer Fire Department Beer Fest
6 p.m.–12 a.m.
Free (age 19+ only). Live music, DJ, cash bar.
Bedford Kids Triathlon 2019
7:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Bedford Lions Pool
Tai Chi with Mirella Veras
9:30 a.m.–10:15 a.m.
Zumba in the Park
Scott Manor House
Rouge et Blanc
Free (age 19+ only). Live music. Hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting. Red and white attire encouraged.
Free. Fitness for your mind, body, and soul.
Free. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair for a family friendly movie. Rain location: Sunnyside Mall.
Free. Pancakes. Singalong with the Grafton St. Dinner Theatre band.
9 a.m.–3 p.m., 6–9:45 p.m.
Tickets sold on site.
Music on Main Stage
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Free. Live music.
Kids’ Canada Day Party
Free. Puppet shows, mermaids, face painting. Wear red and white to celebrate Canada’s birthday.
Canada Day at Scott Manor House
Scott Manor House
Free. At 1 p.m., join a guided walk through the property. Enjoy banjo tunes with Keith Fillmore and an art show by Graham “Buz” Baker.
Ice Cream Social
Chicken Little (1531 Bedford Hwy.)
Free. Ice cream. Live music.
Bedford Days Canada Day Celebrations
8 –10 p.m.
Free. Live music by Donair Supply and a children’s act. Fireworks at 10 p.m.