Festival du Voyageur organizers have hailed the recent event as a "real success."
The festival — which ran from Feb. 15 to 24 — attracted an estimated 97,000 people to 10 official sites during the 10-day celebration of francophone history and culture. Specifically, visitor numbers at Voyageur Park were up 5% over last year, officials say.
"We are thrilled with the success of the 44th edition of Festival du Voyageur," said Festival’s executive director Ginette Lavack Walters in a news release.
In a musical menu too long to list, the event showcased 115 musical acts — including Imaginary Cities, Lisa LeBlanc, Radio Radio, Enjoy Your Pumas, Will Stroet and Samian — and Fort Gibraltar was the site of numerous apprentice voyageur workshops facilitated by experts.
"Our tremendous musical programming managed to please thousands of visitors and the addition of the voyageur apprentice workshops gave people the opportunity to learn about and learn the basics of traditional arts and crafts. Also, our special events such as the Cajun Night presented by Club Regent Casino, as well as the diverse programming at our official sites, assured that we had something for every taste," Lavack Walters added.
There were also plenty of revellers who got into the competitive spirit. The beard growing contest, for example, attracted 55 contestants who competed in three categories. Jeremy Groen won first place in the festival beard category, Roger Prince landed top prize for voyageur beard and Neal Leithead came first in the novelty beard category.
And visitors with a hankering for French flavour enjoyed Rendez-vous des chefs — Festival’s popular pea soup competition — that saw several top local chefs in the battle of the saucepans. Le Garage won the people’s choice award, while the judges’ prize went to Chez Sophie. The contest also raised more than $4,650 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Lavack Walters also noted that this year’s official slogan of Find Your Place in History "resonated with visitors."
The 45th edition of Festival du Voyageur will run from Feb. 14 to 23, 2014. For more information, visit www.heho.ca.