GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The original plan may have been rained out, but last weekend’s Mid Winter Bivver more than made up for it.
“We were sold out in January, about 191 snowmobilers,” Todd Mercer, assistant recreation director with the town of Grand Falls-Windsor, told the Advertiser on Saturday, noting the event lost 70 or 80 participants as a result.
“We had 105 or so on the ride today, and we would have had 170 or 180. With conditions the way they were, that was probably enough. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and it was all good.”
The seventh annual Bivver brought together snowmobile enthusiasts and foodies once again take part in a weekend of activities that combined the two. There were several rides planned, most notably Saturday’s, which saw more than 100 riders take to the trails west of town for most of the day, as well as stops along the way where they could refresh themselves with gourmet trail food.
The event culminated in the Forager’s Feast on Saturday night at the Royal Canadian Legion, which featured a five-course meal prepared by Sysco corporate chef Roary MacPherson, executive chef Allan Milley and executive chef Peter Butler.
“The Grand Falls community and surrounding areas have always been into skidoos, and now, because of these culinary events, are starting to appreciate fine foods,” Milley told the Advertiser. “Now that we’re merging them together, it brings everybody together and everybody seems to be enjoying it.”
Butler said while there are nice places to eat in town, the Bivver and other culinary events give people a chance to experience something they can’t have every day.
MacPherson, who has been involved in the Bivver since the very beginning, said it has been rewarding to watch the appetite for fine dining grow in the province, especially in central Newfoundland.
“With the internet, the Food Network, people travel more – they want to see things, they want to experience things,” he said. “When I first started in the industry, it was pretty basic; you had your top-end French restaurants in St. John’s, and other than that you had your local jigg’s dinner, fish and chips. Now when people travel or move back, they want to have that culinary experience, and they want to have it right in their own back yard, and what better place to have it than Grand Falls-Windsor?”
And if those at the feast were especially voracious, it was in part due to the great riding that had taken place earlier in the day. Exploits Trailnet member Dave Noel said while there wasn’t much snow along the old rail bed in town, conditions were excellent once the riders got out west of the town.
“We’re promoting (central) as a tourist destination, with 400 km of groomed trails that lead to back country, to all kinds of things; there’s something for everyone,” he said. “We just want to get people out and enjoying the winter.”