Fall for Bear River is a festival which is a celebration of the diverse cultural backgrounds and blended histories found in Bear River. It is held around the first week of October each year.
The Town Built On Stilts, Bear River, Annapolis Valley
The first people to live in this scenic glacial valley were the Mi'kmaq who were there for thousands of years before the Europeans and are still living there.

Due to a severe winter storm when one of Champlain's supply ships was forced to seek shelter here the area was discovered by the French. After the Acadian Expulsion of 1755 the English started to settle in this area.

In 1783 German mercenaries known as Waldecians and Hessians came to settle in this beautiful tidal river valley.

In more modern times Bear River has seen a rather large influx of artisans from far and wide come to this area to settle. They are drawn by the sheer beauty and uniqueness of the area.

The Fall for Bear River was started as a way to both celebrate and promote their diverse cultural backgrounds and their unique blending of histories. This unique festival is a collaboration of many organizations in Bear River which came together as part of a National & Provincial Arts & Culture Days initiative.

Even though the town held its first Fall for Bear River Days last year (2011) it already was the largest National Cultural Days event east of Ontario. And it can only grow from here.

Fall for Bear River was one of the main reasons that Bear River was named top five in CBC’s Maritime Cultureville contest. Bear River has so much to offer in its cultural backgrounds and unique histories along with their great prospects for the future.

So what can you expect if you were to go to the Fall for Bear River celebrations? Well let’s take a look at what happened at their first one which was a blueprint for what is to come in others.
Fall Colours On The Water At Bear River, Annapolis Valley
The festival went on for three days starting on Friday. Each day was full of a variety of events to cover everyone’s interest. The theme for this first one centered around the 400th anniversary celebrating the first planting of European grape vines in 1611 by Louis Hebert on these very hills.

One of the highlights was the Annie Kempton Graveyard Tour at the Waterfront Park. The candle-lit tour is led by a costumed guide, Rupert Haley who leads you to the homestead, monument and gravesite of Annie Kempton. Learn the shocking history and mystery concerning this 15 year old school girl who was attacked and murdered in her own home on January 27, 1896.

Saturday morning is started off with a village pancake breakfast at the Fire Hall.

Later they had the Bear River 400 Re-enactment and a Mi’Kmaq Village Re-enactment both at the Waterfront Park. Both of these were very interesting with the actors all in costume. The Re-enactments were hosted by the Ls'itkuk 1st Nation & Bear River Historical Society. Other re-enactments included an 18th Century Camp out Re-enactment. They also featured Live Costumed Street Plays throughout the weekend.

While there you could take in the Community Art Collaboration at the park. The Bear River area has become known as a haven to a wide variety of artist, craftspeople of all varieties have moved there to be inspired by the picturest community and the quiet way of life.

At the Rebekah Gallery they had a special Maude Lewis Art Show sponsored by the Municipality of Digby and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Maude Lewis was a special lady who lived with her husband in a small little house in Marshalltown with no electricity or running water. She taught herself to paint to help them survive and now her paintings have become very much in demand.

The theme, as mentioned is a celebration of the first grape vines gifted to the area after the inhabitants shared their knowledge of local herbs and medicines to Louis Herbert. The valley offers perfect conditions for the grape vines to flourish and today the area celebrates a valuable winery business. To promote a better understanding of the wineries and spectacular vineyards Studio tours sponsored vineyard tours. There were also wine tasting by the Flight of Fancy and grape stomping events going on throughout the weekend.

There were many demonstrations going on all weekend like Mi'kmaq basketry, an antique car show and a quilt show and tea.
All weekend there were Wandering Minstrels and Buskers at the Waterfront Park for everyone’s enjoyment.

Traditional children’s games were held for the young ones on Saturday and Sunday. Plus a Canoe & Kayak Regatta on Saturday afternoon.
Besides a giant outdoor barbecue going on both days, you were also invited to go to the Historically Themed Dinner held. In the evening they held a Cultural Music event for you enjoyment.

This covers most of the highlights of the first Fall for Bear River festival. It was quite a weekend thanks to the many volunteers and community groups who worked together to organize the event.

The coming years will be even bigger and better so keep watching for details. You can check on the dates and schedule of events at the Fall for Bear River website.

Leave the Fall for Bear River Page to Look At Other Great Annapolis Valley Community Festivals.

Or return to the Annapolis Valley Fall Events Page to see what else is happening in the Annapolis Valley