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Tradition celebrated with fun at Bear River’s 124th Cherry Carnival


BEAR RIVER, NS – Bear River celebrated its 124 Cherry Carnival this year and with it its most famous, unique event: the greased pole.

Nearly 40 contestants aged 12 to 48 battled it out to get on the pole and make it the furthest they possibly can before tumbling into the water.

Think that sounds easy? Each year the pole is greased with lard. This year, Brinley Peck, chauffeured by Robert and Jacob Theriault, got the grease going, standing on a raft on the river to really grease it good.

Competitors from Bear River and places as far as Ontario entered the competition.

First-year festival announcers Cody and Greg Peck kept the crowd informed on who was up and who fell in.

“This is our first year doing this, and it’s pretty great,” said Cody.

“It’s great to be part of this event that supports and shows the love to our community like it does.”

The two said the age range isn’t at all surprising, and that it even varied more in years passed.

“We’ve had contestants in their eighties participate in this,” said Greg.

So much grease is used on the pole that some contestants, like David Novak, could barely climb up the river bank on their way out of the water.

“There’s so much grease on that thing!” he said.

This year’s oldest competitor was Mike Charlton, whose son also competed. Both put in a stiff effort but didn’t quite make it.

David Isles, who the announcers said has won the event eight and a half times, also gave it all, but narrowly missed out.

“The pole always gets you in the end it seems,” joked Greg Peck.

This year’s champion was Cody Banks, who leaped and grabbed the flag on his way down into the water.

He took home $150 and the pride of winning the festival’s staple event.

The festival was initially created as a celebration of remarkable cherry crops the village had, but now it stands to celebrate the village itself.

It’s also the largest fundraiser of the year for the Bear River Fire Department.

Fire Chief Darryl Jelfs, who’s been with the fire department for 28 years, said the festival is significant and means the world to the village.

“Our department is very community oriented. This event has always meant so much to us,” he said.

Along with the festival’s history, Jelfs attributes its success to the people it brings together.

“I think it's the fact that it’s an opportunity for everyone to come home who's left for work,” he said.

“It reunites old friendships and allows people to relive their youth,” he said.

Fellow department member Nigel Gunn, a fire prevention officer, has been involved for eight years.

He said the event is all about supporting one another.

“We serve the public and aren’t paid for it. We’re there when they need us. So to have everyone come out and support us like this today is just everything,” he said.

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