ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Frank Merrill Jr., somewhat accidently, became a fan of Antigonish in 1984. In 2016 he, somewhat accidently again, became a fan of the Antigonish International Film Festival (AIFF). This year, he intentionally made it back to town to enjoy both.
“I was at DreamCatcher’s (Deli and Treats) last night and said, what really brings me back is within five feet of me, right here,” Merrill Jr., from Chicago, said, referencing folks such as the restaurant’s owners and operators Roseanne MacEachern and Mike Knocton.
“And I like documentaries, always have, that set the timing up for my trip now,” Merrill Jr. added.
He talked more about first landing in Antigonish back in the mid-80s, and returning a couple of years ago in October.
“I was on vacation and wanted to prowl around the Maritimes, as well as go to Newfoundland, when I stumbled upon Antigonish,” he said.
“I was only here for an afternoon but thought; this is really a charming town. Two years ago, I was overdue for another Maritimes trip and said one of the things I want to do is come back to Antigonish. I didn’t know I was going to stumble into the film festival, it was just when I could get away.”
One thing Merrill Jr., originally from Michigan, said he does find ironic, is that it would be easier for him to travel west to California then coming to Antigonish.
“I have to make two flights and then that only gets me to Halifax,” he said, emphasizing the roughly two hour drive from the airport off Hwy. 102, as a significant part of the travel.
Still, he looks forward to the trip and while he noted it’s too early to commit to his next venture to visit newly made friends in town and see AIFF selections, he plans to come back.
“I hope so” he said, adding he spent the Sunday after the film festival (Oct. 28) taking in some pre-Remembrance Day ceremonies in the area, while staying with MacEachern and Knocton.
“They said get back to Antigonish and you’ll have a place to stay, so that was pretty cool,” Merrill Jr. said.
He returns home to an interesting job, selling vinyl records, mostly 45s.
“Not the albums, the 45s, and most of my stuff I bought 20, 30, 40 years ago,” he said, noting he sells mostly through the internet and a small paper catalogue.
He noted prior to getting into his self-employed job, he worked for the U.S. government in an auditor role.
“A pretty radical change,” he said.