The Dîner en Plaid, a lumberjack-themed dinner dance set for Feb. 22 at the Beban Park Social Centre, is a great way to kick off the Francophone Association of Nanaimo’s Maple Sugar Festival. Photo by Dirk Heydemann/HA Photography

Maple Sugar Festival features family fun, francophone-style

Maple bar drinks will be poured through ice luge at festival showcasing French Canadian culture

Drinks and entertainment are being served on ice at this year’s Maple Sugar Festival.

The annual event, hosted by L’Association des Francophones de Nanaimo, happens at Beban Park this weekend, Feb. 22-24, starting Friday when required dinner attire is plaid shirts, jack shirts and jackets for Dîner en Plaid, an evening of feasting on hearty fare and dancing.

“What we’re having new this year with our plaid dinner is we’re going to have a drink luge,” said Catharine Williams, association executive director.

The drink luge is a one-metre-tall ice sculpture created by Nanaimo-based ice sculptor Aaron Grant. The festival’s specialty maple drink will be poured through and chilled to perfection at the bar.

“It’s a luge, so when you’re pouring your drink you’re going to pour it through the ice, so you’ll hold your glass up and it’ll pour into your glass,” Williams said.

Grant will also be chipping away at a 1.5-metre-tall sculpture Saturday of a man tapping a maple tree.

A photo booth has been added to the festival’s kids’ corner this year, complete with props, for all ages and every photo will be printed with a commemorative Maple Sugar Festival logo.

Ziggy Twister returns this year to create his balloon animals. Double the Trouble, Andrew Wells-Oberegger, Laurie Leblanc, Swing, Narissa Young, Vesta Entertainment and Benoit Ranger are just a few of the acts, ranging from on-stage bands and musicians to roving circus performers.

“My favourite thing … I love the dancing music and my kids, of course, they’re all about the kids’ corner. It will have lots of activities and our balloon sculptor is probably one of the most amazing balloon sculptors I’ve ever seen,” Williams said.

The festival also hosts special visits Thursday from local schools to introduce Nanaimo students to French Canadian culture. Last year more than 2,000 students toured the festival.

“We have great traditional food, great music – we have a wonderful lineup this year,” Williams said.

To learn more about opening hours, ticket prices and availability, daily event schedules and other information, visit the Maple Sugar Festival website at this link.

Party en français: You’ll be sweet on the Maple Sugar Festival
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