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Perfect weather for lobsters

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By John Barnhart

The weather was perfect, Saturday, for the Kiwanis Club’s annual Lobster Festival.

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    This is the club’s major fundraiser for the year, according to John Messier who heads up the event. Messier said the goal is to raise $5,000 from the event.

    Kiwanis uses this money for various projects during the year. The Club supports the Key Clubs at Liberty and Staunton River high schools. In the past the Kiwanis provided support to Safe Haven, its signature project. Safe Haven was an after school mentoring program for children at the Raintree Apartments in Bedford. Now that it has ceased operating, the Bedford Area YMCA has picked up its work and Messier said that Kiwanis will probably direct funds to the Y for that purpose.

    Messier, his two sons Jamie and Scott, and Bill Brinkley cooked the crustaceans with the men doing the heavy lifting. This year the Lobster Festival happened to occur on Jamie and Scott’s birthday, Oct. 3. The two boys aren’t twins, Messier said they were born two years apart. They just happened to be born on exactly the same day of the year.

    The lobsters are Maine Lobsters.

    “The truck comes down from Spruce Head Harbor, Maine,” said Messier.

    It doesn’t come to Bedford, however. It delivers them to a seafood wholesale market in Jessup, Md. Jessup is between Washington, D. C. and Baltimore. In order to connect with the truck, Messier left Bedford late Thursday afternoon, slept in his car at a rest stop and picked up the lobsters, 450 of them, at 4:30 a.m. on Friday.

    “He [the truck driver] drops the lobsters off at 4 a.m. and I pick the lobsters up at 4:30 a.m.,” Messier said.

    Gunnoe’s provides overnight cold storage and this results in fresh lobsters come Saturday afternoon. The lobsters are fresh enough that they were really ticked-off and waving their claws as Messier and his sons took them out of the boxes they were packed in.

    As always, the Lobster Festival takes place at the Welcome Center. On nice autumn days, like last Saturday, the tables on the Welcome Center’s patio provides an excellent venue with a beautiful view of the National D-Day Memorial and the Peaks of Otter.

    The Welcome Center also provides the option of moving indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Lynn Scott, who manages the Welcome Center, said that had to be done that one year. The downside of that, Scott noted, is that the entire Welcome Center smelled of lobster when they opened up the following Monday.

    This is the seventh year that Bedford Kiwanis has done this and word is getting around the area. Sergei Troubetzkoy, the area’s director of tourism, noted that they sold tickets to people from Roanoke.