MADAWASKA, Maine — If it’s summer in the St. John Valley, it must be Acadian Festival time.
Thousands are expected to converge on this northern Maine border town June 25-28 to celebrate and honor all things Acadian from historical re-enactments to local delicacies to a giant family reunion.
“Things are really looking great,” Jane Carter, Acadian Festival chairwoman, said Monday afternoon. “We’ve added a lot to the program and changed some things around.”
Among the changes for this 32nd annual festival is a different venue for the activities.
“Everything is taking place in Bicentennial Park this year and not at the multipurpose center,” Carter said. “It’s going to be really, really nice.”
Every year the festival honors a family, and this year it’s the hundreds of descendants of the original Marquis who first immigrated to the St. John Valley in 1811.
“It’s going so great, and we are looking forward to meeting all of our Marquis cousins,” said Judy Paradis, Marquis family reunion president. “When we started organizing this, none of us knew how personally satisfying it would be making connections with all these family members.”
To date more than 500 have purchased tickets for the Marquis family banquet Saturday night, and Paradis said thousands of invitations have gone out over the last year to Marquis descendants around North America.
Registration for the family reunion begins Thursday morning at Madawaska High School and continues throughout the festival.
Marquises will strut their stuff at a family talent show Friday night at the high school, and members will gather again Sunday morning for a Mass in St. Agatha and family brunch at the Lakeview Restaurant.
Also on tap for the festival is a re-enactment of the landing of the first Acadians, a kayak poker run, mountain bike races, a pie eating contest, a classic car show, concerts, a quilting show, an art show, a lumberjack show, a parade and fireworks.
“It’s really a big event and always a fun time,” Carter said. “We are going to try to give everyone the best time we can so they keep coming back.”
Tickets are still available for all festival and family reunion events with information and a complete schedule available at www.acadianfestival.com.