Gobblefest: Celebrating Local Music Since 1994

Twenty-three years, almost half my life, I’ve been involved in the Gobblefest music festival in one capacity or another.

A lot of people give me credit as founder of the festival but I don’t see myself that way – the festival happened and continues to happen because there was a need for it then and there is a need for it now.

For those of you who don’t know Gobblefest, it’s a music festival that happens every Thanksgiving in Cape Breton. Its objective has always been to inspire and celebrate: inspire young people to create their own music and express themselves and celebrate the music they create.

My initial involvement in Gobblefest and my continued involvement in the festival stems from my core belief that young people are Cape Breton’s greatest resource — and our greatest export. I believe young people don’t leave the island just because there are no “jawbs” but also because their ideas and vision are not valued – are in fact rejected. I saw and still see Gobblefest as a means of investing in our youth.



Gobblefest, for better or worse, has existed without major government funding for most of its 23 years. The festival gets its core funding (and a great deal of its volunteer support) from Caper Radio (CJBU 107.3), CBU’s campus/community radio station which has recently gone FM. It’s a reciprocal relationship: CJBU gets exposure and a fundraising opportunity while the festival gets to happen.

Gobblefest, from its start, has run on the sweat, passion and energy of the volunteers who plan and run it, the musicians who play it and the audiences who attend it. Like my good friend Darryl MacKinnon (who deserves a lot of credit for keeping the festival going when no one else seemed to care), who didn’t sleep for 72 hours or something extreme like that during the first Gobblefest in 1994, exhausting himself to the point of hallucination.

This year’s Gobblefest begins Friday October 6th at 5:00 PM with an acoustic, all-ages show at Smart Shop Place on Charlotte Street in Sydney featuring Jordan Francis, Bailey Shibinette, One Eye’d Eddie, Joe Costello, Tamarack and Gabrielle Papillon.

It moves that night to Governors on the Esplanade in Sydney, for a licensed show with The Camper Vans, Fire Valley Fire, The Jaynes and Outtacontroller.

Saturday will see an all-ages show at 3:00 PM at Undercurrent Youth Centre on Prince Street in Sydney featuring Kadima, New Draft, Ricochet, Born to Die in Berlin, The High Tide, Dazor and Pier 14.

Saturday night is a licensed gig at the legendary Upstairs Club on Ferry Street (in Sydney) starting at 10:30 PM and featuring 2Jr. (Riley Hill Band), Robot Orbison, Alright Already and Jessie Brown.

Gobblefest winds up on Sunday with an all-ages event at Atomic Records in Sydney River, starting at 4:00 PM and featuring Dazor and Jester.


Rod Gale


Graduate of St.FX University and Loyalist College, disciple of Father Jimmy Tompkins, cook and construction worker Rod Gale works out West but would love to work in Cape Breton. He loves his wife, believes in honor and justice (but not sacred cows) and refuses to kiss ass to get ahead.