GANDER, NL – Classical guitarist Eric West started out with slow, enchanting notes inspired by Portuguese waltzes to kick off the 16th annual Eric’s Time – named after Eric Norman, who established the Gander-based event – for the last time March 8.
Bidding farewell to the event, which operates under the March Hare’s umbrella, were a dozen established Newfoundland artists including Anita Best, Sandy Morris, Gary Collins and Joel Thomas Hynes.
Event organizers decided to wind down Eric’s Time in conjunction with the demise of the March Hare, which is ending after 32 years.
March Hare project manager Rex Brown gave notice some time ago that 2018 would be the last year for the poetry festival and if anyone out there wanted to take it on, he'd gladly hand over the reins.
But nobody stepped forward.
“It's been an absolutely wonderful run. I enjoyed every minute, but now the time has come to move on,” Brown told the Western Star last week.
That's why he is not at all regretful about ending the festival, which had 18 established venues including in New York and Toronto.
“As you go through life there's various phases and all that. I suppose it's all summed up to for everything there is a season – well, that's it, the season of March Hare is over.”
Gander was one of those 18 locations, after Norman, being friends with March Hare organizers Al Pittman and Brown, decided to bring the festival to Gander.
“Eric had connections with the arts community, knew all these wonderful people, and it kind of made sense to expand the Hare,” said organizer Sheldon McBreairty, who would also become involved in the event.
“We started small, 25-30 people, sometimes less, but we really built something special.”
After Eric’s passing 12 years ago, the event was renamed in his honour. His son Tony, also one of the organizers, said the decision to rename the event for Norman was a tribute brought forward by Brown and the late Al Pittman’s former wife.
“They always had a good time at Eric’s, so it became a spin on a traditional Newfoundland good time in the kitchen.”
To see the event end after all these years seemed fitting, he said.
“I think he would have been very proud and pleased with how it turned out, but I think Dad would have wanted it to go out with the original (March Hare),” said Tony.
“We would also like say a thank-you to the community service groups and businesses that have been supporting us for years.”