With the Maple Sugar Festival fast approaching, easing of COVID-19 restrictions are coming at the perfect time, say organizers.
The pandemic forced last year’s celebration of French Canadian culture to be held virtually, but the recent rescinding of restrictions will ensure that the Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre D’erable will take place March 25-27 at Beban Park, says Cristian Alejandro Zurita, L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo cultural and community coordinator.
“As the restrictions have softened up, we have tried to adapt. In January, we spoke about having a hybrid Maple Sugar Festival, which is half online and half people actually attending with the limit of how many people we could accommodate,” Zurita says. “Now those limitations are not in place anymore, so this year, we are finally having a sort of a normal [event].”
He said this year’s festival will still be streamed live and entertainment will come courtesy Le Diable Á Cinq and Le Winston Band, André Thériault, Vincent Bishop and Double the Trouble. Local artist Dan Parker and his group Bandeira Parker will also perform.
“He sings in Portuguese because he has all these Brazilian rhythms … but he will be addressing the crowd in French, because he also speaks French and English,” said Zurita. “We’re very, very excited about that. It’s going to be very Brazilian, jazzy-ish rhythms.”
People can wear masks if they wish, he said, and precautions will still be taken to ensure safety.
“We have toffee on the snow, la tire sur la neige, which is part of the tradition,” he said. “Because COVID is still there, we have to be cautious and follow the guidelines. We’re going to have plexiglass between the people just to make sure that no one gets sick.”
Association members and children under 12 years old get in for free, while youths 13-18 will pay $3 for admission and adults will pay $5. Front-line health workers will also get in for free as Zurita said the association wants to “honour them as well.”
“This is our 21st edition of the Maple Sugar Festival and we are looking forward to [go] towards something that looks a little bit more like normal, the new normal,” said Zurita.
Volunteers are also sought. For more information, call 250-729-2776 or go to www.msfnanaimo.org.