ABRAM-VILLAGE – Sept. 18, 2021 – Who would have thought, half a century ago, when the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition added a cultural dimension – an Acadian Festival – to its programming that the event would one day become the largest annual Acadian cultural and artistic event on Prince Edward Island.
The Exhibition is now in its 118th year, while the first 50 years of the Acadian Festival are being celebrated in a big way this year. Two events in particular will mark the anniversary: a talk tracing the history of the Festival’s five decades and a fantastic closing show recalling the major artists who have performed on the Festival stage over the years.
Historian-folklorist Georges Arsenault will first present a talk entitled “Remembering the 50 Years of the Acadian Festival” Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Village musical acadien in Abram-Village. He will show a number of photos and video clips on the big screen and offer a brief history of the activities that took place at the Festival, including the parade, the mass in fishing boat, the lumberjack competitions, the pole climbers, etc. Afterwards, a panel discussion will feature special guests – people who were very involved especially in the early editions – sharing their precious memories of the Festival. Admission will be free but donations will be appreciated. Since seating is limited by pandemic regulations, reservations are required by visiting the online box office at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
The Festival has served as an important artistic platform and springboard for many local artists. In fact, its stages have witnessed the evolution of several Acadian singers and musicians who have reached professional or semi-professional levels. And it was the closing show on Sunday night that was always reserved to showcase the best of what the community had to offer in terms of singing, music and dancing. It was always the the highlight of the weekend.
Over the years, artists, groups and troupes such as Cajun, Eddie and Amand Arsenault, Les Danseurs Évangéline, Angèle Arsenault, GAMECK, Panou, Paul D. Gallant, Gary Gallant, Marcella and Patricia Richard, Jeannita Bernard, Edward Arsenault, Barachois, Chuck and Albert, Gadelle, Vishtèn, Acadilac, Les Jeunes danseuses acadiennes, Caroline Bernard and Rémi Arsenault, Paloudes and many others have performed at the Festival. The fiddle, that precious traditional instrument, has always had a place of honor on the Sunday evening stage.
This year’s magnificent closing show, to be held Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m., will be themed “Hats Off to Our Artists of the Past 50 Years” and will pay tribute to those artists – especially those from the early years – who have contributed so much to the Festival’s atmosphere and reputation. The organizers promise that this event, filled with energy and great memories, will stimulate the eyes and ears of the audience; it will be a show that must be seen and heard to be fully appreciated.
Historian Georges Arsenault and singer Jeannita Bernard (who performed at the first edition of the Festival) will co-host the show. This duo worked closely with musical/artistic directors Rémi Arsenault and Caroline Bernard to conceive the show and to determine the story to be told through music, song and dance.
Without giving everything away, Rémi Arsenault explains that the audience can expect to see and hear some of the greatest hits of the last half-century from the Evangeline region. Some of the original artists will return to the stage, but for the most part, it will be contemporary artists who will offer their interpretations of popular numbers. Of course, there will be a place for younger musicians who represent the next generation of artists for the region and the Festival. The audience can also expect several pleasant surprises.
About 20 performers will participate in this beautiful musical event. They will be accompanied by a house band composed of Louise Arsenault, Keelin Wedge, Shane Arsenault, Rémi Arsenault and Caroline Bernard.
The closing show usually attracts several thousand people, but this year only 600 will be able to attend (again due to pandemic restrictions). Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children and must be purchased in advance through the online box office at www.expositionfestival.ca/program/ .
PHOTOS: The closing show of the Acadian Festival Sunday, Sept. 5, will be a tribute to the first 50 years of the event. It will feature the region’s greatest hits, including fiddle music written by the late Eddy Arsenault and songs composed the late Angèle Arsenault (Photo: La Voix acadienne).
For more information:
Coordinator of the closing show
Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival