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Festival du Voyageur expanding celebration

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Joanne and her husband Guy Noël, dressed in traditional costume, pass by blocks of snow ready for carving.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Joanne and her husband Guy Noël, dressed in traditional costume, pass by blocks of snow ready for carving. Photo Store

A new free shuttle, the addition of a second Snow Bar and two new official sites - Chez Sophie sur le pont and the Rendez-vous on Ice at The Forks' skating trail - will have you shouting "He-ho" in no time at the 2014 Festival du Voyageur from Feb. 14-23.

The largest winter festival in Western Canada, the Festival du Voyageur announced its slogan as "Woven In Time" for its 45th edition and revealed its programming today at Fort Gibraltar in Voyageur Park.

There will be 130 artists performing at 11 sites over the 10 days of the event.

Some Franco-Manitoban artists to take in will include Marijosée, Dugas and Daniel Roa along with anglophone acts such as Sierra Noble, the Asham Stompers featuring Sagkeeng's Finest, Royal Canoe and Bros. Landreth.

"We feel truly fortunate that what began so many years ago as a Franco-Manitoban community celebration has been embraced by people throughout the city and province," said Daniel Leclair, the Festival's vice-president. "Year after year, we are able to share our 'joie de vivre' and the spirit of the voyageurs. With countless visitors from near and far, what a privilege that is."

For the first time, a free shuttle will run from The Forks (the northwest corner of Waterfront Drive and Mahatma Gandhi Way to Université de Saint-Boniface (Despins Street entrance) to Voyageur Park. It will stop every 30 minutes at these stops.

The Rendez-vous on Ice at The Forks' skating trail will be open to the public on Feb. 14-17 when it will offer an outdoor bar and a fashion show on ice.

Families looking for a fun way to spend the day on Louis Riel Day (Feb. 17) will find Fort Gibraltar packed with events such as traditional trades and craft demonstrations, fiddling and jigging workshops. Festival organizers are asking everyone to come to the park dressed in blue or white that day as they attempt to create the largest 'living' Métis flag.

The largest tent at the event, the MTS Red River Tent, has doubled in size to hold about 700 people.

Also new, the official Festival family will be unveiled this year during the event with a 'kitchen party' on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Voyageur Trading Post at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre.

The pre-sale for the 10-day Voyageur Pass at discounted prices will end Friday. Passes are available from the Festival office at 233 Provencher Blvd., Safeway stores in Winnipeg and on-line at www.heho.ca.

Volunteers are still needed for the event and can register at www.heho.ca.

"Volunteering is a great way to experience the French-Canadian culture first-hand," said Johanne Noël who, along with her husband Guy, has volunteered for 35 years. The couple and their family were the Festival's official family in 2000-2001.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

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