All aboard for Nautical Days fun in Comox

Pirates, sinking ships, and a contest to see who can catch the biggest fish are just a glimpse into the fun at the 54th annual Nautical Days festival.

The festival, headquartered at Marina Park in Comox, will span the B.C. Day long weekend (Aug. 4 to 6) and will feature a slew of time-honoured acts and events sure to please crowds of kids and adults.

Saturday morning will begin with a Strathcona Sunrise Rotary pancake breakfast, featuring live entertainment by Rob Petrie. Festival-goers can afterwards try their luck competing in one of several categories at the 26th annual Bullhead Derby — the Pacific Northwest’s largest catch-and-release fishing derby.

The annual Kids’ Festival begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. with a pet parade; Youngsters can build crafts, hop on the Bounce Mania, have their faces painted, or brave numerous carnival rides, among other activities.

Adults are also entitled to their fun at a centrally-located, bistro-style garden termed Tavern on the Green, open each day. A jazz ensemble will provide the afternoon’s entertainment.

Once the Kids’ Festival winds down, competition will heat up as two-man teams prepare for a canoe-jousting competition presented by the Flying Canoe West Coast Pub — the last man standing wins! Folks of all ages are then invited to a live performance at Captain Cracker’s Family Dance, the final event of the night.

Those who worked up an appetite partaking in the previous day’s festivities will be pleased to learn Strathcona Sunrise Rotary provides another pancake breakfast Sunday morning. Afterwards, festival-goers can wander down to Marina Park’s Rotary Boardwalk to “hear the drums, feel the spirit” and watch the action unfold as teams from across the Island and Lower Mainland compete in the 10th annual Victor Simonson Dragon Boat Races.

The Comox Valley Ministerial will simultaneously lead an interdenominational church service to which attendees should bring their own lawn chairs. At 12:30 p.m., Elvis tribute artist Steve Elliot will bring the memories and magic of the King. Sunday’s ‘Gospel of Elvis’ will be the first of three stellar performances.

Once prizes have been awarded to dragon-boating winners, Time Well Wasted will entertain crowds during the second installment of Captain Cracker’s Family Dance. The Kinsmen will sponsor Monday morning’s pancake breakfast, fuelling spectators and competitors participating in Central Builders Home Hardware’s 25th annual Build, Bail, and Sail. Contestants will construct a flotilla of water craft onsite using only hand tools; the race, which begins at 1 p.m., is often won by simply staying afloat.  Athletes preferring to stay dry can instead compete in B.C.’s longest-running foot race; registration is $10 for the four-mile race. Finneron Hyundai and Courtenay Auto Supply will put on a car show running 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Half an hour after the car show commences, the Nautical Days annual parade will leave Rodello Street, turning at Stewart Avenue before ending up at Marina Park. Noon will see a performance from the Forbidden Men’s Choir, an address from Mayor Paul Ives, and a traditional welcome by the K’ómoks First Nation and K’umugwe Dancers, as opening ceremonies commence. The next big event begins at 3 p.m., when Steve Elliot returns to perform The Magic of Elvis. Later that evening, HMCS Quadra staff and cadets will perform the Sunset Ceremony of the Flags, a composite of customs and traditions from the 17th century.

At 10:15 p.m., the festivities will culminate in Vancouver Island’s largest fireworks display. Sponsored by Quality Foods, the spectacular choreographed event will last 30 minutes.


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