For the first time, Maine and Canada will jointly host the World Acadian Congress (Congrès mondial acadien,http://www.cma2014.com/en), which has taken place every five years since 1994. Held previously in Canada and Louisiana, the 2014 Congress now includes the St. John Valley and the city of Madawaska located in Maine’s Aroostook County on the Canadian border. In addition to St. John Valley, the Congress includes New Brunswick and the Temiscouata region of Quebec to form “Acadia of Lands and Forest.”
A Celebration of the Acadian Culture
The Acadian World Congress celebrates the Acadian culture that began in the mid-18th century when French Acadians were expelled from the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for not swearing allegiance to England during the French and Indian War.
Approximately 50,000 visitors are expected to travel to “Acadia of Lands and Forests” for the festivities. The Congress, which runs from August 8ththrough August 24th, celebrates unique Acadian culture including food, language, music, and other traditions. The mission of the Congress is to bring together Acadians from across the globe for family reunions, conferences and events. There are 120 family reunions scheduled for 2014, and residents in Northern Maine have opened their homes to many of these families to host them during the Congress.
Activities and Events
Three major activities taking place on three separate days will frame the Congress events, each of which will showcase one of the three host sub-regions that make up Acadia of the Lands and Forests.
Opening ceremonies will be held in northwestern New Brunswick on August 8th. The Acadian National Day will be celebrated in Maine on August 15th in the town of Madawaska, where more than 80 percent of the residents speak French at home. They are expected to welcome more than 10,000 French Acadians on that day. Events include an outdoor Mass with an 80-member international choir that will be celebrated by bishops representing the municipalities covered by “Acadia of the Lands and Forests.” Downtown Madawaska will offer street entertainment, art exhibitions, community barbecues and other activities.
A highlight of the day is the Tintamarre where thousands of Acadians and their friends dressed in Acadian colors of blue, white, and red assemble in the streets playing pots, pans and other noisemakers. In the evening, visitors can enjoy the National Acadian Holiday stage event “Acadie fille d’Amerique” at the Multipurpose Centre in Madawaska celebrating more than 400 years of Acadian presence in America with music and song. The day ends with a dazzling fireworks display.
Maine and the Province of New Brunswick will present the Songwriters Circle Without Borders featuring four talented singer-songwriters on one stage. Representing Maine are Denny Breau and JoséVachon with Caroline Savoie and Danny Bourreau from New Brunswick. Performances will be held on Sunday August 17th at 9:00 p.m. Atlantic Time at the Pavillon MultiMEDIA in Edmundston and Monday, August 18th at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at the Fox Theater at the University of Maine in Fort Kent. Admission is free. The project is supported by Music Musique NB and the Maine Arts Commission.