Vive 25 ans de Festival du Bois
The street banners are up. So is the Grand Chapiteau over the tennis courts at Coquitlam's Mackin Park.
And, despite the snowfall this week, organizers of the 25th annual Festival du Bois are confident there will be clear skies — and no mud — for the biggest French-Canadian party of the year.
Sponsored in part by The Tri-City News, the milestone event kicked off last Thursday with the first Dîner en Plaid, a sold-out meal to fundraise for the festival.
Tomorrow (Thursday) will see the launch of a new art exhibit at Place des Arts, titled "We're Not Out of the Woods," while the Maillardville landmark will host a show by Fransaskois singer-songwriter Alexis Normand on Friday night.
And this weekend, Société francophone de Maillardville will transform Mackin Park, which last year underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade, for the festivities.
Johanne Dumas, the festival's executive and artistic director for 18 years, said French-Canadian music and children's activities will be plentiful, with traditional fare such as pea soup, tourtiere, sugar pie and poutine served until 8 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, the Kinsmen will be pouring maple syrup over pancakes at their 10 a.m. breakfast.
Dumas said many Quebecois, Celtic and world folk music bands have returned to Festival du Bois to honour its quarter century. She pointed to the Yves Lambert Trio and JouTou for "supporting our initiative over the years.... Festival du Bois is not about big names — it's just music to have a good time."
Since 1990, the francophone fête has evolved to include more multicultural components — people of Iranian, Chinese and Korean heritage are also involved — and more entertainment geared for families. That, Dumas said, has been a draw for residents outside of the Tri-Cities: Of the 10,000 attendees last year, a third came from Vancouver while another third hailed from other Metro suburbs.
"All communities in the region have the same look with rivers and mountains," Dumas said, "and we have that too. But we've also been able to tap into our local roots by showcasing Maillardville as the cradle of French-Canada in B.C."
• Festival du Bois runs at Mackin Park (at the corner of Brunette Avenue and King Edward Street) in Coquitlam on March 1 (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and March 2 (10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Admission is $12/$8/$5 (kids under five get in free; a family package is $30). Free shuttles will run every 15 minutes from the Ikea parking lot. For advance tickets or the entertainment line-up, visit festivaldubois.ca or call 1-800-838-3006.