Various competitions and races promoting
healthy living and fun slated for Acadian Festival
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Aug. 18, 2021 – Races and competitions are always an integral part of the Evangeline Area’s Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival. This year, even though the size of the overall event is considerably reduced, its board has decided to organize at least four races or competitions. Some are organized to encourage participation while others are simply for fun and observation.
First, the Acadian Festival Road Race, organized to promote healthy living, will take place Saturday, Sept. 4, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the Évangéline School track in Abram-Village. Participants will have the option of running (or walking) either 5 km, 10 km or 21.1 km (a half marathon). The registration fee is $20 per person or $5 for those 10 years of age or younger. Everyone who completes the anticipated distance will receive a race medal. (For an additional $10 fee, organizers will mail medals to participants.) To register, simply email [email protected]
The other popular competitions will be held on the fairgrounds Sunday, Sept. 5, starting at 2:30 p.m. The woodsmen’s, fishermen’s and firefighters’ competitions will be held on the fairgrounds.
The woodsmen competition will be for people who work in the field and who are used to using lumberjack-type tools. Competitions such as axe throwing, splitting logs with axes, cutting logs with chainsaws, etc., can be expected. Participants’ times will be tabulated; the woodsmen who complete their races in the fastest times will win prizes.
The fishermen’s competition usually includes a timed race with several components. For example, fishers might pull a lobster trap attached to a long rope, hand-transfer a long rope from one fish tub to another, catch buoys with a gaff, and put rubber bands on lobster claws. Fishers completing the race in the fastest time swill win prizes.
The firefighters’ portion of the afternoon will include relay races and competitions. For example, firefighters from various fire stations could participate in a race to dress up in heavy vests, pants, helmets and fire boots; roll up, roll out and carry long hoses; carry “human bodies”; or other such activities. Once again, prizes will be awarded to the winners.
Admission to the grounds for the afternoon will be $5 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
PHOTO 1: Runners are looking forward to the 2021 Acadian Festival Road Race scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4, just as they were at this past edition of the race.
PHOTO 2: Acadian Festival Road Race volunteers Kathleen Couture (left) and Jennifer Arsenault proudly greeted Gérald Gallant as he completed his run in a recent edition of the race.
PHOTO 3: Fishermen and helpers – like Cory Caissie and Krista Arsenault – had a great time at the 2018 Fishermen’s Competition. A similar competition is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 5, at 2:30 p.m. during the Evangeline Agricultural Expo and Acadian Festival.
A first-ever Acadian Festival “Reversed Parade” slated for Sept. 5
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Aug. 18, 2021 – Due to pandemic restrictions, the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival will not be able to hold its annual parade again this year – at least not in its regular format. “The board of directors thought that if the parade can’t come to us, maybe we could go to the parade,” says president Jeanne Gallant.
And so the concept of “The Reversed Parade” was born: organizations, businesses and individuals will still prepare parade entries (such as floats and such), but will leave them at home. And it will instead be people who will be travelling around the area on Sunday, Sept. 5, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to visit the entries.
Gallant explains: “We invite people to decorate their homes, businesses, yards, cars or floats in bright colors to help us celebrate the 2021 theme: 50 Years… Let’s Celebrate the Festival! The Acadian flag or its colors should of course be part of the decor. You could incorporate historical elements to represent the last half century of the Festival.”
“People can also represent components of the Agricultural Exhibition with animals, equipment and farm products or things to represent the fishing industry, such as boats, lobster traps, nets or buoys. And of course, people are encouraged to include human, cultural and artistic dimensions – so it would be good to include comedy, dance or music and singing, either recorded or preferably live, just as we usually do in our regular parade.”
Those preparing “entries” are then invited to register them on the Festival master list by calling (902) 854-3517 or emailing [email protected] A list and map of all the places to visit will then be distributed, especially via the Evangeline Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival Facebook page. The public will be able to follow the “map” to visit all the decorated locations participating in “Reversed Parade”. Visitors will however be asked to not get out of their cars as they visit the entries.
“We realize that some people who are interested in presenting an entry would not be able to present one because of access challenges or without creating unsafe traffic situations. So, those who prefer not to present these entries at home can set them up in the parking lot of Evangeline School or the Evangeline Recreation Centre in Abram-Village,” said Gallant. “All you have to do is tell us your preference when you sign up and we will reserve a space for you. Then in the tour map, we will indicate your location.”
It is during those two hours on Sunday morning that the secret judges will visit all the sites. They will then award prizes for the top three entries, as well as for the best representation of Acadian culture, the most innovative and/or original entry, the children’s entry, the funniest entry, and the People’s Choice Award. To vote for this last award, people will just have to visit the website www.expositionfestival.ca, 2021 section, and click on the link dedicated to this purpose.
PHOTO 1: During a recent edition of the parade of the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and the Acadian Festival, the entry called “Pépé’s Circus”, prepared by Pierre Arsenault, had attracted much attention and admiration. This year, the parade will be reversed.
PHOTO 2: Paula Gallant played the role of a beautiful clown in the Acadian Festival parade a couple of years ago.
PHOTO 3: Robert Arsenault of Urbainville Farms was tied to one of his big farm machines for one of the Acadian Festival parades.
Six shows organized to help celebrate Acadian Festival
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Aug. 18, 2021 – Six shows and evenings of music – featuring renowned local and out-of-province artists (including New Brunswick’s very own Hert LeBlanc) – are being organized to help celebrate the Evangeline region’s Acadian Festival the first weekend of September.
“We knew that due to pandemic restrictions, we would not be able to accommodate our regular number of visitors to our facilities, but we still wanted to give as many people as possible a chance to celebrate the end of the summer season and our 50th anniversary. That’s why we invited other community partners to organize their own Francophone shows or musical evenings and include them in our general programming,” explains Jeanne Gallant, president of the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 3
The series will begin on Friday, Sept. 3, at 2:30 p.m. with the provincial finals of the Youth Talent Competition sponsored by PEI Mutual Insurance and organized by the PEI Association of Exhibitions at the Evangeline Recreation Centre in Abram-Village. This competition will bring together the winners of eight regional competitions, held throughout the Island over the summer, to crown a provincial champion. All competitors had to be between the ages of 13 and 21. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
That evening from 8 to 10:30 p.m., the Village musical acadien (VMA) will host the “Festival Cabaret” in the Exhibition’s Stable building. The evening will feature local popular artists Marcella Richard, Caroline Bernard and Nick Arsenault, all accompanied by the summer house band, Keelin Wedge, Rodney Arsenault, Danny McNevin and Rémi Arsenault. Admission is $20. Tickets must be purchased in advance by visiting www.villagemusical.ca.
At 9 p.m., the Wellington Legion will host a free musical evening featuring the duo of Allan Gallant and Marcel Caissie, both well-known musicians from the region. They will entertain the crowd with their folk and country songs.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 4
The festivities continue Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Evangeline Recreation Centre with the official opening ceremonies, followed by a performance by Caroline Bernard and Rémi Arsenault and their sons Riel and Benoit, and then the VMA Youth House Band, made up of Mia Bernard, Andraya Gallant, Dawson Arsenault and Jaden MacInnis. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
Although there will be no dances this year, there are no rules against celebrating with great live music. So the VMA has brought in popular Acadian-Cajun-country-blues-rock & roll singer Hert LeBlanc and his musicians from Bouctouche, NB, for a vibrant evening of music Saturday night from 9 p.m. to midnight in the Exhibition Stable. This singer-musician previously played at the Festival when he was part of the group Bois-Joli. Since becoming a solo artist, he has recorded nine popular albums and has had the opportunity to play throughout the Maritimes and Quebec. Earlier in his 30+ year musical career, he founded several other bands: Sweet Temptation, Countrified and then Hert & The Running Rebels. Admission is $20. Tickets must be purchased in advance by visiting www.villagemusical.ca.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 5
The weekend will conclude Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Evangeline Recreation Centre when the winners of the various competitions will be announced, and the 2021 Acadian of the Year Award will be presented. This will be followed by the closing show, which will be themed “Hats Off to Our Artists of the Past 50 Years”. The evening is a tribute to the first generation of local artists who played at the Festival, especially in the 70s and 80s. Twenty artists, some from the early years but most from the contemporary generation, will play the greatest hits of the Festival’s pioneers in a stunning visual and sonic event. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance by visiting www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
PHOTO 1: Acadian-Cajun-Country artist Hert LeBlanc from Bouctouche, NB, and his musicians will present a fantastic evening of energetic music Saturday night at the Exhibition Stable.
PHOTO 2: The musical family of Rémi Arsenault, Caroline Bernard and their sons Riel, left, and Benoit Arsenault will be playing at the Acadian Festival Saturday afternoon, following the official opening.
Acadian Festival dedicates special evening
to children and teenagers
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Aug. 18, 2021 – Organizers of the 2021 edition of the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and the Acadian Festival will devote the evening of Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, entirely to youth. The first activity, on the fairgrounds, will be dedicated to younger children (12 and under) and their parents, while the second activity, in the Exhibition Stable, will be for teenagers (13 to 18 years old).
The first event – Family Night – will begin at 6 p.m. with a welcome by Festival president Jeanne Gallant. This will be followed by a tintamarre (a noise parade). Families are invited to dress up in Acadian colors and decorate their wagons, strollers or bicycles to give the event a festive atmosphere.
After a mini show by juggler Michaël-Lucien Bergeron, youngsters will be invited to participate in a series of competitions: a boot throwing contest, a horse pulling contest, a family relay to pack firewood and a wheelbarrow race. Prizes will be presented to the winners. There will then be a cow patty bingo and the evening will end with another mini juggling show, this time with fire.
Admission is $3 for children and $5 for adults. Interested parties should purchase their tickets in advance as attendance is limited to 200 people. To access the online box office: www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
Teen Night, organized in collaboration with Jeunesse acadienne et francophone de l’ÎPÉ (JAFLIPE), will also begin at 6 p.m. with a message of welcome and an icebreaker game. Youth will then be able to participate in a series of giant games: Jenga, Washers, Hacky Sack, Horseshoes and Connect Four.
There will then be a half-hour performance by the local group of young musicians called La Voix lactée (composed of Mia MacInnes, Ella-Jane Adams and Muireann McGuire with guest Gary Gallant on drums) followed by an improv game (possibly with an outside group). During a break, youth will have the opportunity to have their picture taken at a photo booth or play various small games.
The evening will continue with a one-hour musical performance. Among the young musicians performing will be a group consisting of Mia Bernard, Andraya Gallant, Dawson Arsenault and Jaden McInnis. The event is expected to end around 10 pm.
This event will also be limited to 200 people. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance through the box office at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
PHOTO 1: Juggler Michaël-Lucien Bergeron will perform two mini-shows at the Family Fun Night on the Exhibition grounds Thursday, Sept. 2.
PHOTOS 2 and 3: At the “Mini-Festival” held last June, these girls participated in the boot-throwing competition (Macy Richard) and wood-stacking competition (Mireille Bernard). These are the types of contests that will be held at the Family Fun Night on the fairgrounds Thursday, Sept. 2.
PHOTO 4: From left, Jaden McInnis, Andraya Gallant, Mia Bernard and Dawson Arsenault will entertain the youngsters gathered for the Acadian Festival’s Teen Night Thursday, Sept. 2.
Acadian Festival to celebrate
its first 50 years with two special events
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Sept. 18, 2021 – Who would have thought, half a century ago, when the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition added a cultural dimension – an Acadian Festival – to its programming that the event would one day become the largest annual Acadian cultural and artistic event on Prince Edward Island.
The Exhibition is now in its 118th year, while the first 50 years of the Acadian Festival are being celebrated in a big way this year. Two events in particular will mark the anniversary: a talk tracing the history of the Festival’s five decades and a fantastic closing show recalling the major artists who have performed on the Festival stage over the years.
Historian-folklorist Georges Arsenault will first present a talk entitled “Remembering the 50 Years of the Acadian Festival” Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Village musical acadien in Abram-Village. He will show a number of photos and video clips on the big screen and offer a brief history of the activities that took place at the Festival, including the parade, the mass in fishing boat, the lumberjack competitions, the pole climbers, etc. Afterwards, a panel discussion will feature special guests – people who were very involved especially in the early editions – sharing their precious memories of the Festival. Admission will be free but donations will be appreciated. Since seating is limited by pandemic regulations, reservations are required by visiting the online box office at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
The Festival has served as an important artistic platform and springboard for many local artists. In fact, its stages have witnessed the evolution of several Acadian singers and musicians who have reached professional or semi-professional levels. And it was the closing show on Sunday night that was always reserved to showcase the best of what the community had to offer in terms of singing, music and dancing. It was always the the highlight of the weekend.
Over the years, artists, groups and troupes such as Cajun, Eddie and Amand Arsenault, Les Danseurs Évangéline, Angèle Arsenault, GAMECK, Panou, Paul D. Gallant, Gary Gallant, Marcella and Patricia Richard, Jeannita Bernard, Edward Arsenault, Barachois, Chuck and Albert, Gadelle, Vishtèn, Acadilac, Les Jeunes danseuses acadiennes, Caroline Bernard and Rémi Arsenault, Paloudes and many others have performed at the Festival. The fiddle, that precious traditional instrument, has always had a place of honor on the Sunday evening stage.
This year’s magnificent closing show, to be held Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m., will be themed “Hats Off to Our Artists of the Past 50 Years” and will pay tribute to those artists – especially those from the early years – who have contributed so much to the Festival’s atmosphere and reputation. The organizers promise that this event, filled with energy and great memories, will stimulate the eyes and ears of the audience; it will be a show that must be seen and heard to be fully appreciated.
Historian Georges Arsenault and singer Jeannita Bernard (who performed at the first edition of the Festival) will co-host the show. This duo worked closely with musical/artistic directors Rémi Arsenault and Caroline Bernard to conceive the show and to determine the story to be told through music, song and dance.
Without giving everything away, Rémi Arsenault explains that the audience can expect to see and hear some of the greatest hits of the last half-century from the Evangeline region. Some of the original artists will return to the stage, but for the most part, it will be contemporary artists who will offer their interpretations of popular numbers. Of course, there will be a place for younger musicians who represent the next generation of artists for the region and the Festival. The audience can also expect several pleasant surprises.
About 20 performers will participate in this beautiful musical event. They will be accompanied by a house band composed of Louise Arsenault, Keelin Wedge, Shane Arsenault, Rémi Arsenault and Caroline Bernard.
The closing show usually attracts several thousand people, but this year only 600 will be able to attend (again due to pandemic restrictions). Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children and must be purchased in advance through the online box office at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
PHOTOS: The closing show of the Acadian Festival Sunday, Sept. 5, will be a tribute to the first 50 years of the event. It will feature the region’s greatest hits, including fiddle music written by the late Eddy Arsenault and songs composed the late Angèle Arsenault (Photo: La Voix acadienne).