Acadian festival going strong after 45 years

9 months ago

MADAWASKA, Maine — Spotty weather didn’t stop hundreds from coming out to Madawaska’s 45th annual Acadian Festival, which featured several events centered around Acadian French culture.

Danielle Hebert, chairperson of the Acadian Festival Committee, said committee members spend the entire year planning the annual event.

“The committee puts in a lot of work,” Hebert said on Thursday, the first day of the festival. “I’m just thankful for all their hard work throughout the year. We’re just excited for people to enjoy themselves this weekend.”

Hebert said she has been attending the Acadian Festival since she was a child. She said it is exciting that the event is still going strong.

“We want to continue to celebrate our Acadian heritage so we have to keep this going,” she said.

Paradis Shop ‘n Save Supermarket makes an appearance at Madawaska’s 45th annual Acadian Festival parade on Sunday afternoon. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

In the past, Hebert said the festival celebrated one family with Acadian heritage per year, changing families each year. Over time, this tradition stopped, she said.

“Now we just kind of celebrate everybody,” she said. “And over the years, it has always been a time when people have scheduled vacations to come back home. So that’s what we love to see — those families coming back to the area to visit and celebrate with us.”

She said some families come from New Hampshire and Connecticut. 

“Whether they’re here for the festival or they just happen to be here, it’s still nice to see the variety of people in town.”

The festival also included a guided bus tour highlighting historical sites along the St. John Valley and hosted by Lise Pelletier. The Friday tour went from Madawaska to Fort Kent and the Saturday tour went toward Van Buren.

Local Elvis impersonator Quentin Warren makes an appearance at the 45th annual Acadian Festival Parade on Sunday afternoon. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

“We really wanted to incorporate the historical sites along the St. John Valley because we have a lot, and a lot of people don’t even know those are available to visit,” Hebert said.

And while the weather throughout the weekend was spotty, there was no rain during the Sunday afternoon parade.

On Monday, Hebert said she was optimistic about the parade and festival as a whole. 

“Though the weather wasn’t on our side for most of the festival, we certainly tried to make the best of it all,” she said. “Our main goal is to help provide activities and events where people can gather together and enjoy each other’s company and celebrate our Acadian culture. I think we did that this year and hope we continue this tradition for years to come.”