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Festival du Bois is French for 'Let's party'

This year, they're sticking to the original plan.

This year, they're sticking to the original plan.

Organizers with Coquitlam's Festival du Bois were disappointed with the turnout in 2010, having moved the francophone celebration up two weeks to capitalize on the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler.

The poor weather didn't help, either, as expected crowds failed to show.

"People stayed in Vancouver because all the activities were free," said Isabelle Gingras, the festival's communications co-ordinator, "so we did our best. It was okay - just not great."

The altered schedule confused a lot of regular visitors, too; many called the festival offices in early March wanting to know when the party started, she said.

For this year's 22nd annual family event, Festival du Bois will return to the first weekend in March at Mackin Park in Maillardville but it will also branch out with a kick-off concert in Vancouver - the first time a festival event has been outside of the city boundaries.

The March 4 show at the Auditorium Jules-Verne (5445 Baillie St., Vancouver) will feature Mathieu Lippé, a theatrical poet, musician and storyteller, and the sounds of Les Surveillantes (The Supervisors), a young folk-pop band from St. Boniface, Man.

Gingras said Festival du Bois went beyond Coquitlam's boundaries for two reasons: Organizers couldn't find a local venue and they wanted to draw more Vancouver participants to the weekend fête.

"Like an outreach," she said.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Coquitlam entertainment is focused in three areas: Tente des Ateliers (workshop tent); Tente des Enfants (children's tent); and Gran Chapiteau (main tent).

The Saturday activities run from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and, at 7 p.m., the site reopens for La Grande Veillée, with headliners Carlos Placeres at 8 p.m. and Yves Lambert et le Bébert Orchestra at 9:30 p.m. And on Sunday, doors open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m., with another concert by the Cuban-born Placeres at 3:15 p.m.

Gingras expects Placeres, who now calls Montreal home, and his band to bring the house down as they cater to many musical tastes - not just francophone. "Festival du Bois is not just a French festival. It's more world music and I think that appeals to a lot of people," Gingras said, adding, "More than 60% of our participants are anglophones and we have many bands that sing in both English and French."

Besides the music, there are also universal activities including eating poutine, tourtière and maple sugar pie, taking part in art workshops at Mackin House and admiring art at Place des Arts. (On Thursday, artist Catherine Tableau opens her exhibit, "Earth's Dream, Stone's Dream/Rêve de terre, rêve de pierre," at 7:30 p.m.)

Also new to the festival program is the display from a dozen or so non-profit and community groups including PoCoMo Youth Services, Maillardville Residents' Association and the Minnekhada Park Association.

• Sponsored in part by The Tri-City News, the 22nd annual Festival du Bois runs March 5 and 6 at Mackin Park in Coquitlam. Tickets at $12/$8/$5 a day are available at the gate; admission for children aged five years and younger is free and daytime prices do not include the evening performances. For more information, visit

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