Last week we visited three islands off the coast of Newfoundland. One of them, Fogo, delivered the most unexpected and fun weekend of the trip to date.
First destination: Tilting. We were told at the visitor center, we had arrived just in time for their annual Feile Festival. We had no idea what that meant or what a treat we were in for.
The 100% Irish Catholic town had a line-up of music, food, and dancing lined up. It was a reunion weekend that families who had left the small fishing village to move to the city (Saint John’s) all came back to attend. We were among the handful of CFAs (Come From Away) guests.
Festivities officially started early in the week (Tuesday) with the gist of the festival being live radio broadcasts of the event shared in Ireland and other Irish or Irish-in-spirit communities around the world. All proceeds were to benefit the St Patrick’s parish hall, which was also party-central for the week’s events.
We arrived on Friday, in time to attend the church supper. A fish fry of course. Next up, the Shed Crawl. A $10 ticket allowed us to participate.
There would be alcohol involved so the first order of duty was to find suitable camping within walking distance. There is no campground. But immediately a local person offered a few central boondockng suggestions. Okay. This view from our site will do nicely, thank you.
A shed-crawl is like a pub crawl, but more in the “kitchen party” style of Newfoundland, except we’d be moving from one local shed to the next with five stops in all. We’d find featured entertainers in each shed, and then members of each walking group were invited to participate, sing a song, play an instrument, or tell a story or a lie.
All 200 participants met at the parish hall where we were divided into 5 groups of 40 people. We’d walk from one shed to the next, moving every 1/2 hour. It was a BYOB event – we walked the quiet streets, beverages in hand. Pretty civilized, really.
We were entertained by a great variety of music at each shed. With so much amazing local talent in Newfoundland – why would we be surprised?
In the course of the evening, we were warmly greeted by everyone we met and, since we were with the same group all evening, we made great connections and friendships with several people. We then continued to see each other at other events all weekend long.
Did Randy join in with entertaining? Well not during the shed crawl, but yes, he did manage to get up the courage the next day after some coaxing, we were invited back to one of the sheds for a less-organized Saturday afternoon jam session.
In fact, Foley’s Shed is considered a landmark in Tilting. The local inn (more about it later) sends their guests there for a taste of local culture.
The architecture of the homes on Fogo Island is mainly salt-box style. Rectangular and two-story homes. Quite different than what we had seen on the west coast.
After a very memorable weekend in Tilting, we moved on to the next town on the island, Fogo. It was a cold, windy day so we only chose a short hike.
Can you believe that there is a “flat earth society”? People who are convinced the earth is flat. Stranger still, to learn that they think there are “corners” on the disc the describe as earth. This rock in Fogo is supposed to be one of the four corners.
No tour of Fogo Island would be complete without a tour of the Fogo Island Inn. When we found out they offer free tours to tourists (with a day’s notice), we were in.
The Inn is an amazing place with an amazing woman behind it. Zita Cobb, a Fogo Island native, made her fortune outside the province but came back to share it all in many ways. The Inn has welcomed many famous guests from all over the world, with rooms starting at $1900 plus per night but it includes extras like island excursions. All proceeds go through her non-profit organization, Shore Fast, to benefit the residents of Fogo Island. We met some of the gals she went to school with at the Tilting festival. I can assure you Zita is much loved on the island and it’s no wonder!
When we finally left Fogo, the same ferry allowed for a stop on Change Island. It was equally beautiful, small, with only one village, and really pretty coves.
When we finished our hike on Change Island, we stopped by Seven Oaks Inn and Cottages (the only inn on the island) where a woman, the owner, was trying to untangle her wash from the line. Randy offered to assist and she ended up asking us in for a tour of her lovely inn. The rates ($150 per night) were much more in keeping with what we could afford.
Our final island visit was to Twillingate, requiring no ferry – it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway.
We weathered a few days of miserable rain and wind before we had an opportunity to hike there. But we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful coastal hikes of the trip with a new view of a different cover at every turn.
And we were “Screeched In” in a local pub so we’re officially Newfoundlanders now. At least in spirit.
What a fun week!