Every year the Island folk of Saturna invite boaters, and those wishing to ride the BC Ferries, to join them for a family-style Lamb Barbeque with 1200 of your best new friends, a tradition that has lasted over 70 years.
July 1st, Canada Day, is the date to anchor overnight in Winter Cove and take part in a bit of history. The 350 year-round residents have been celebrating this special event since 1950. Over 100 boats make the annual trek to share the experience and flavor of island life, food, and fun.
Event volunteers guide island residents through the process of welcoming visitors to this special community picnic. Planning begins in September; “there are so many tasks and considerations to attend to, that it feels like a fulltime job,” as noted by event chairwomen Peggy and Joan. This unique event is an all-volunteer effort, and funds raised help support island services and programs. What does it take to put on this Barbeque? – 27 lambs, many cords of fire wood, a fire department crew to ensure a safe environment, and paramedics on-hand for any needed assistance. Making arrangements to have a Red Serge (Ceremonial Uniform) Royal Canadian Mounted Police in attendance is just one of the many tasks for the organizers. The officer often encourages selfies.
The bonfire pit crew starts early in the morning at 4 a.m. to prepare and light the fire for the barbeque. Once the fire has died down, the lamb is placed on stakes surrounding the fire pit in Argentinean style (a spectacle seen only by early morning risers). The lamb is then tended by chefs lathering on a secret sauce, known only to a few on the island, to keep the meat moist, flavorful, and tender.
It’s best to arrive early and purchase your tickets in order to have first-in-line privileges. Barbequed lamb, with all the fixings, is served around 1:30 p.m.; guests line up based on their ticket number. Lamb is not the only menu item. You can purchase other tasty treats like hamburgers, vegetarian dishes, ice cream and other delights offered by community groups like the baseball team or perhaps the Library staff. Gathering with other boaters and locals in the Beverage Garden is another way to meet new friends. And what would a party be without those old-fashioned outdoor games, music, and artists sharing their crafts.
When making your plans for the cruising season, consider attending the Saturna Island Lamb Barbeque on July 1st. Put on your best Red and White for Canada Day and join in the fun. You’ll find plenty of anchorage in Winter Cove, but be prepared for the crowds at this popular event. Tickets to partake in the lamb-bake feast are purchased ashore (cash only), beginning at 9 a.m. – $25 for adults and $12 for children under 12 years of age. A dinghy dock is provided and fills up quickly. Your best bet is to hail one of the courtesy shuttles for a ride to shore (life jackets required). For more details about the event, go to Saturna Lamb Bake. Each year’s event is truly a fun, memorable experience.
By John Shepard
WG Field Correspondent