Ron Toivanen has lived all over Canada but chose to retire in Bathurst, where he finds the people "absolutely amazing, the way they can open up and eat lobster."

"They're fast and they're good, and they do not leave anything behind," he said.

ron toivanen

Ron Toivanen has lived all over Canada but fell in love with Bathurst — and its lobster — and decided to retire in the Chaleur region (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

Toivanen believes the region's lobster is so good, it deserves its own festival.

He is spearheading the Succulents Festival, to be held in Petit Rocher at Motel & Chalet L'Acadien, owned by lobster fisherman Charles Roy, in his "Fisherman's Garage," now under construction.

"You're going to see an Acadian-style lobster supper or feast," said Toivanen, a native of Peterborough, Ont. "It's basic lobster, a refreshment."

The festival will run May 19-21 during the long weekend.

Travelling festival

Toivanen succulents festival

The Succulents lobster festival, to be held on the May long weekend, is a celebration of Chaleur-region lobster.

The inaugural event will be in Petit-Rocher, but Toivanen and his team of volunteers envisage a travelling festival, held in a separate location in the Chaleur region every year.

The Succulents Festival is scheduled for the tourism off-season, but Toivanen isn't worried.

"When I moved here, I found July becomes summertime and not very much happens before then," he said.

Toivanen has identified what he believes to be an untapped market for the Chaleur region: retirees.

"If they can get out early in their SUV or whatever, the weather doesn't matter if there's something they want to do," he said. "Lobster is a great way to attract people."

He hopes the promise of fresh-caught Chaleur lobster will lure retirees and families to the region, and other attractions will keep them here for an extended visit.

The catch will be provided by Roy and served during an explanation of how to eat lobster, and the traditions surrounding it.

Toivanen's love of the Maritimes is strong, but despite his immersion in local culture, he is still "from away," he said.

"You're always considered to be away until you've been here 70 years," he said, laughing, unable to claim the title of "New Brunswicker".

"Definitely not yet."