Kiss the cod
Peggy Vink is seen kissing cod (mackerel) during the Down East Kitchen Party. Courtesy Briand photo

RUSSELL – As if she wasn’t busy enough running her regular Trivia Nights, Connie Johnston decided to add another moneymaker to her fundraising portfolio.

Launched June 1 at the Russell Community Centre, it was the first Down East Kitchen Party which raised $900 for the Russell & District Historical Society and will be repeated again next year. The sold-out event drew nothing but praise for its organization, entertainment and food. It was staffed by many of the same volunteers who help Johnston pull together Trivia Nights.   

With the hall decorated in a Maritime theme, the Kitchen Party featured a superb fish and chips dinner, the right kind of live music, and a Screech-Inn and Cod Kissing for more than 30 wannabe Newfoundlanders. In between, guests could have their pictures taken in bright yellow sou’westers and matching hats by Trivia Night resident photographer Paul Deveau.  

Each of the inductees received a certificate acknowledging membership in the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers. The elaborate ceremony involved kissing a mackerel substituting for the traditional cod, swallowing a shot of Screech rum, nibbling on smoked capelin, sampling various Purity company treats synonymous with The Rock and downing a chunk of Newfoundland steak… baloney.

Guests were effusive in their enthusiasm for the main meal provided by Ottawa’s Ad Mare Seafood Wagon and the tangy desserts prepared by Dawne Korteweg. Three sittings were needed to get everyone fed in an orderly manner.

The band Steady Belt led by versatile Metcalfe musician/singer Chris Rodgers only stopped playing when it ran out of steam. Band members seemed to enjoy themselves at least as much as the crowd: “Had a blast,” Rodgers posted. “Superb food and even better audience!” Many of the band’s livelier tunes were randomly accompanied by several among the audience playing kitchen spoons, some of them “sold” by bar boss Ray Scharfe to add to the fundraising total. Lighthouse centrepieces were also for sale at $10 each. 

“People can’t stop talking about it being the best party they’ve seen in a long time,” said a pleased Johnston. “Thanks to the amazing people who worked so hard to make it a success.”

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