Federal official gave Privateer Days positive review

By Scott Costen

An official with the Department of Canadian Heritage gave the 2018 Privateer Days festival a positive review after visiting Liverpool on the event’s opening day.

Claude Allain was at the festival June 22 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Queens Observer obtained a copy of his “Festival Site Visit Report” through a freedom of information request.

The annual event — which received $44,100 from Canadian Heritage last year — was “well attended and well organized,” Allain wrote. “The community engagement is palpable in this small rural setting. All local businesses seemed supportive of the festival.”

Allain noted the presence of “a local interpreter/historian” who was “on hand to talk about the town’s history.” He also praised a “well visited” display of historical photos. “The big tent events had free music during the day, boosting attendance and making it very accessible to the public,” he added.

According to outgoing festival chair Tanya Long, Allain’s site visit was the first in recent memory. At a public meeting earlier this month, she said federal officials must have been concerned that “people weren’t being open-minded” about the entry of a Pride-themed float in the annual Privateer Days parade.

Allain’s report does not directly mention the controversy surrounding the float, but it does note the festival committee was “very inclusive with people of all ages and background(s).”

While most of Allain’s observations were positive, there were a few criticisms. He reported that volunteers “were not always visibly identified.” He also noted the Canadian Heritage logo, rather than the Government of Canada logo, was displayed at the festival. This contravened the “new standardized use of logos,” he said.

Ultimately, Allain seemed quite pleased with what he saw. He recommended Canadian Heritage continue to fund Privateer Days due to its importance to the community. “This festival is central to the cultural landscape of the region,” he wrote.