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This article was published 23/2/2015 (2687 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was the second-coldest Festival du Voyageur but, with its theme of "The World's Largest Kitchen Party," the 2015 Festival cooked up 10 great days.
The Festival wrapped up Sunday at Voyageur Park with a closing ceremony in temperatures that dipped to -31 with the wind chill.
Daniel Leclair, Festival president, said this year's event was the second-coldest overall in its 46-year history and, amid shouts of "Hé Ho!" he praised the hardy spirits of those who attended, volunteers and organizers.
"You guys are still out here partying it up and having a good time, bravo, vous autres, bravo!" Leclair told the assembled in the Tente Rivière Rouge MTS Sunday afternoon. "We are truly fortunate to have so many passionate people involved."
Leclair pointed out the Festival team this year had 200 employees and 1,200 volunteers. Final numbers for attendance were not available, but organizers said daytime numbers were down due to the cold, but evening numbers appeared to be in line with previous years.
"That's just knocking it out of the park!" Leclair said. "Vraiment, vraiment incroyable!"
Ginette Lavack Walters, the festival's executive director, said a longtime Festival volunteer compiled weather statistics from Environment Canada's historical data stating 1979 was the coldest Festival, with an average temperature of -24.2 C. This year's average temperature was -22.3 C.
"Those were pretty wicked temperatures, so if you add in the wind chill, that's most likely -33 back then and -31 this time," Lavack Walters said.
She said the cold was not as big a deterrent as organizers worried it might be.
"The last Friday (Feb. 20) was amazing, the park was just jammed solid. It was wonderful. What is surprising, and we're so thankful for, is that despite how cold it is out there, people came out. Our tents were full at night," she said. "Where we think we'll see attendance figures drop is during the day with families, but certainly the crowd that wants to come out and celebrate la joie de vivre are here in great numbers at night."
Lavack Walters said a major change in the seating arrangement inside the Tente Rivière Rouge MTS was a big success.
"We took out some of the picnic tables and replaced them with more grandstands. It made the flow (people moving around) much easier. It made it safer for participants and more wide-open space for lots of dancing and partying," she said. "We could accommodate more people. We also increased the capacity of our Snow Bar, which also helped alleviate some lineups. We added about 80 spaces to the Snow Bar and added enough room for about another 100 people in here (Tente Rivière Rouge MTS) as well."
The Sorin family, official Voyageur Family for 2015, will carry on into 2016, including parents Marcel and Michelle, and their children Catherine, Amélie, Miguel and Cabrel.