Nova Scotia

Earl warnings fail to cancel outdoor events

A motorcycle rally in Nova Scotia and an Acadian festival on P.E.I. are still slated to go ahead despite Hurricane Earl's approach.

N.S. minister questions plans for motorcycle rally expected to attract 100,000

Two large outdoor events are going ahead in the Maritimes this weekend despite the imminent arrival of Hurricane Earl.

The Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, N.S., is expected to attract between 80,000 and 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts, many of whom will be staying in tents.

Meanwhile in Abram-Village, P.E.I, more than 1,000 people are expected to attend an Acadian dance party inside a large tent Saturday night as part of the Évangéline Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival.

Both events might have an uninvited guest in Hurricane Earl.

Environment Canada's latest forecast says there is about a 50 per cent chance that Earl will make landfall at hurricane strength in Nova Scotia and the chance of hurricane-force winds in P.E.I. is 20 per cent. Winds are considered hurricane force at 120 kilometres an hour.

The minister in charge of Nova Scotia's emergency measures operations, Ramona Jennex, is expressing concern about the motorcycle rally's plan to go ahead.

Digby County has a hurricane watch in effect and is directly in the path of the hurricane, according to the latest predictions.

Jennex said Thursday she will be in contact with event organizers once she has a better idea of the storm track.

The rally started Wednesday and runs to Monday, with the main gathering on the weekend.

Jennex said the province has already moved a mobile emergency measures command centre into the area and have surveyed local churches and schools that may serve as potential shelters.

No indoor venue at P.E.I. Acadian festival 

If Earl is still at hurricane strength when it reaches P.E.I., organizers of the Acadian dance say the rental company they hired will dismantle the tent where the event is to be held.

That would mean no venue for not just the dance but other events at the festival, which is expected to attract thousands of people over the weekend.

The Acadian festival is usually held in the village area, but it burnt down in April.

"Now, we have to face this," said organizer Raymond Bernard. "So, we have to get ready, but we're hoping it that doesn't get too strong, and that we can still have all our events just the same."

Organizers say they will still watch the weather closely. They plan to sandbag the side of the tent to prevent flooding and move some activities to other locations if necessary.

Some people involved with both events seemed unconcerned about Earl's arrival.

At the P.E.I. festival's campground, people said they weren't going anywhere unless they were specifically told to do so by officials.

"It would take an awful strong hurricane to keep us away," said Raymond Gallant, who has been coming to the event from Moncton, N.B., for 40 years.

In Nova Scotia, rally organizers posted an update for bikers Wednesday.

"Although we anticipate the storm to not be an issue, if by some reason the forecasters are correct, space has been made available at the Digby Arena for bikes at a nominal fee," reads a message at www.wharfratrally.com. 

"We will keep you updated."

With files from The Canadian Press

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