Acadian Festival and exhibition kicking off Thursday
© File photo.
The Exposition Agricole has been an important part of Acadian heritage dating back over a century, with events like the horse pull drawing in crowds year after year.
ABRAM-VILLAGE – Over 100 years of history will carry on beginning Thursday, when the annual Exposition agricole et le Festival acadien gets underway.
The exhibition, which dates back to 1899, is engrained in the Acadian heritage of P.E.I., said festival president Eric Richard.
“It’s one of the biggest Acadian cultural events of the year,” he said. “It means quite a bit for the Acadians all over the Island.”
The first organized exhibition took place in the Urbainville schoolyard in 1903, comprising of 18 competitive classes. The event more than doubled in size the next year, when membership was expanded to include all of Egmont Bay, forcing it to be moved to a new location at a church hall.
Changes have been made to the exhibition ever since, growing and expanding as much as possible.
“We try to get something new in every year,” Richard said, pointing to new events such as the four-wheeler pull and the return of Gerry Arsenault’s pole climbing act this year. “It’s important to have new, fresh things to keep the people interested.”
The return of Arsenault to the festival is sure to be a hit, Richard said.
The 65-year-old acrobat is back at the poles after a five-year retirement.
“I know there’s a lot of people asking us from all over, ‘Is Gerry ever going to come back?’ and we never knew. But finally, he’s come out of retirement.”
Arsenault’s show, which will feature his mother and son, is indicative of the family-oriented nature of the festival’s history.
“It is a family thing,” Richard said. “Right now we have younger people whose mothers or fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, were all exhibitors. It’s coming down through generations and generations.”
Ever since the Acadian Festival united with the Exhibition agricole in 1971, showcasing traditional Acadian things to the general public has been a big feature.
“There’s a lot of fiddling, step dancing, things like that,” Richard said. “It’s very, very popular in the Acadian culture.”
Another big draw is the Acadian culinary treats, including the annual lobster supper on Friday and the home-cooked meals on Saturday and Sunday.
“That’s what a lot of people are looking for. It’s all really down-to-earth, homemade food.”
The festival will kick off Thursday night with the Acazing talent show at 7:30 p.m., followed by a youth dance at the Expo-Festival Centre.
For a full list of events and admission information, visit www.expositionfestival.com.