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This year’s Maple Sugar Festival will be sweet

L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo hosts 17th Maple Sugar Festival this weekend
Hey, Wow, a musical project by Jean-Marc Lalonde, will take a detour from traditional folk music for a fuller sound and a whole new approach to the accordion at the Maple Sugar Festival happening at Beban Park this weekend. (Photo submitted)

Expect this year’s Maple Sugar Festival to be a super sweet celebration when L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend.

The society is kicking festivities up a notch for its 17th Maple Sugar Festival happening Friday to Sunday, Feb. 23-25 at Beban Park social centre.

“It’s always been a cultural event, but this year we wanted to really emphasize that francophone culture is enthusiastic, passionate and excited about having fun, so the artists we’ve booked reflect that a lot this year,” said Joanne Hogan, the association’s communications coordinator.

Opening ceremonies will promote audience participation with performances from the children’s L’École Océane Chorus and Patrick Aleck, a Stz’uminus and Penelakut First Nations motivational speaker, who will lead the audience in singing and drumming for the first time at a Maple Sugar Festival.

“He’s creating more community and unity with his singing and his drumming, so it’s going to be more interactive,” Hogan said.

The Plaid Dinner is back for 2018 too. This rare opportunity to dress up in plaid for a gourmet dinner is followed by lots of dancing and high-energy music from performers David Jalber, Hey, Wow and the Mark Crissinger Band.

Tickets for the Paid Dinner are available through the Port Theatre Ticket Centre.

Bands from across Canada and the mid Island are featured throughout the festival.

“What we’re really pleased about, always, is that we present cross-country artists and local artists at our festival and we’ve done that this year again with new people that are going to be performing that are locally situated and it’s kind of a bonus for us again, if you will, that they’re bilingual,” Hogan said.

Interactivity is being carried through to the children’s section of the festival as well with roving performers. There will also be plenty of kiosks with arts and crafts to keep kids engaged in activities, everything paid for with tokens.

“That will be their currency in that kids’ corner, so we’re selling three tokens for $5, so for example it’s one token for a balloon sculpture,” she said. “The balloon sculptor [Ziggy Twister] we have is amazing. He can do, like, a full mermaid with three balloons intertwined. Usually the lineups are really long for him too.”

Any Maple Sugar Festival, of course, has to include traditional favourites.

“The maple sugar toffee on snow, rolled out in the traditional way. Yes that’s a given and, of course, another standard, the poutine truck, will be just outside the front door,” Hogan said.

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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