Thousands roll into downtown Hartland to sell, shop and share smiles

by | Aug 8, 2023

Successful Big Bridge Fest ends on New Brunswick Day with massive vendors market and more

The world’s longest covered bridge took centre stage as Hartland closed out the 2023 Big Bridge Fest with a massive vendors market and more on New Brunswick Day, Aug. 7.

Thousands of visitors jammed downtown Hartland to enjoy the weather, friends, the wares of more than 170 vendors, food trucks, downtown canteens, entertainment, children’s activities and a car show.

Hartland Mayor Tracey DeMerchant praised the festival committee and many volunteers for the event’s ongoing success. She welcomed the day’s special guests, including Carleton MLA and Education Minister Bill Hogan, Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones and Southern Victoria Mayor Cindy McLaughlin.

Hogan noted the great atmosphere throughout the busy downtown Hartland, calling it an ideal way to celebrate what the province offers.

“New Brunswick Day is important,” he said, noting the festival captures the “relaxed and friendly” feelings that epitomize the province.

The provincial minister did his share to embrace and enhance the warm festival feelings by kicking up his feet during a line-dancing demonstration near the Dr. Walter Chestnut Public Library.

Family, friends and all ages, from babies to seniors, enjoyed the day’s activities with a central focus on the annual New Brunswick Day Covered Bridge Market.

Amy Lawrence, who moved to the area two years ago, brought her custom “tye dye creations” to the market for the first time, setting up her Groovy Garments booth next in the tourist bureau parking lot in the shadow of the famous bridge.

While she attended various markets in the area, Lawrence said the Hartland event offers a unique experience for vendors and shoppers.

Vendors’ booths filled most of the covered bridge, the tourist bureau parking lot and the downtown parking lot between the bridge entrance and the library. All three locations welcomed scores of shoppers and browsers.

On the Somerville side of the 1,281-foot (391-metre) bridge, seasoned and upcoming singers shared the mic for four hours of songs at a new event called “For the Love of Music.”

Organizer Tasha Doherty said the event was designed to give the singers and audience a busker-like vibe and allow young singers to gain confidence in front of a crowd. Experienced singers offered a 20-minute set, while the children and youth performed a single song between sets.

A tip jar sat available for appreciative audience members to offer each performer a financial award.

A Kid’s Zone behind the library provided a bouncy castle, slide and activities for children of all ages.

Vintage and exotic cars and trucks lined the side of the closed Main Street throughout the day, as the annual car show included a parade of Corvettes as the only motorized traffic during the event.

Food was never a problem during the event, with several food trucks and downtown canteens offering various food and beverage options.

The New Brunswick Day activities successfully closed the four-day Big Bridge Fest, which enjoyed large crowds throughout the festival, which began Friday evening, Aug. 4, with a sold-out comedy and music show on the bridge.

Despite heavy morning rains, Saturday’s activities began with a nature walk along the Becaguimac Trail. A day of activities ended with the Big Bridge Beer Festival and fireworks.

The annual parade highlighted Sunday’s activities with hundreds of people lining the downtown Hartland streets under partly cloudy skies.

For road conditions, click the map

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.