ABRAM-VILLAGE -- For a pole-climber, Gerry “the Branch Manager” Arsenault is really getting up there.
The 85-foot pole on which he has performed stunts at previous Agricultural Exhibitions and Acadian Festivals (L'Exposition agricole et le Festival acadien de la région Évangéline) has been taken down and replaced with one that stands 102 feet out of the ground. Arsenault and his cast of performers will make their way to the very top for shows on the exhibition grounds this weekend.
Festival president Eric Richard lists the pole-climbing show as one of the many feature events taking place during the Évangéline region’s annual homecoming event.
Many families, Richard said, plan their annual summer vacations around the festival and agricultural fair.
“It’s a great big meeting place,” he confirmed. “You see people you haven’t seen all year.”
The 140 serviced sites at the festival’s Terre Rouge campground, Richard said, have all been booked since July and there are only a few rough camping sites remaining. Indeed, many sites get booked a year in advance.
Activities start on Thursday with an evening talent show and a youth dance.
There’s a full schedule for the next three days. The grounds open Friday at 8 a.m. Livestock judging starts at 9 a.m., the handcraft and vegetable exhibits open for viewing at 2 p.m.
Other events on Friday include the provincial Youth Talent finals at 2:30 p.m., a P.E.I. Fall Flavours preview event, Acadian lobster feast at 5 p.m. (advance ticket sales only) and the festival’s wildly popular ''Le Djâble dans l'corps'' dance with Louisiana’s Kevin Naquin and Ossun Playboys.
The Évangéline and Gabriel dance with the lively band, RÉVEIL, goes Saturday night.
Full weekend schedule
A feature event on Sunday is the closing concert, this time featuring a tribute to Angèle Arsenault and the launch of her last CD.
Richard notes Arsenault, who died in February was an enthusiastic ambassador of the region and of Acadian music, and a frequent guest of the festival's closing concert. Various P.E.I. and N.B. artists will be on stage for the tribute.
Acadian of the Year and Youth of the Year will be announced during the closing concert.
Other feature events during the weekend include magic shows with Rémi Boudreau, Saturday afternoon entertainment with Kevin Naquin and Ossun Playboys, rubber boot throwing playdowns all weekend leading up to the P.E.I. championship on Sunday, Saturday’s woodsmen and horse pull competitions, Sunday’s Mass on the boats at Cap- Egmont, the Festival parade and many other events.