VAN BUREN, Maine — A Caribou construction firm has stepped forward with the first private business contribution to the 2014 World Acadian Congress.
J.P. Martin and Sons Construction Corp. of Caribou came forward earlier this month with a gift of $5,000, and presented the check to officials in Van Buren.
The money will support the necessary coordination work in advance of the largest event held in the region since the Phish concerts came to the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone in the late 1990s and earlier this decade.
The World Acadian Congress, which is held every five years in different regions populated by Acadians, will be staged in northern Maine, northwestern New Brunswick and the Temiscouata region of Quebec in August 2014. This will be the first time in the event’s history that it has spanned two countries.
The event is expected to draw at least 50,000 people to the area over a two- to three-week period. In the past, the event has attracted more than 50,000 visitors over two weeks to host regions including Louisiana and the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick.
In winning the 2014 bid, the Maine-New Brunswick-Quebec regions, operating under the unified title “Acadia of the Lands and Forests,” beat out competing applications from Quebec City and Louisiana.
James Martin, J.P. Martin and Sons company president and founder, said he considers the 2014 gathering to be “a very important event both for the people of northern Maine and beyond, as well as for the economic development of our region.
“We see this as investing in something that is coming to The County that will have a positive and lasting impact on the area,” he said. “We wanted to make this contribution to the congress now because it is time for people to start thinking about the coming event and to get on board.”
The contribution was accepted by the five directors that sit on the international organizing committee from Maine, including Jason Parent, delegation president; Don Levesque, who serves as both a director from Maine and secretary of the 15-member board; and directors Louise Martin, Lise Pelletier and Anne Roy.
Parent said he was thrilled and grateful for the donation, recognizing it would “help us greatly as we begin the mammoth undertaking that is the coordination of the first-ever World Acadian Congress hosted in Maine.
“One of the areas we will focus on in the year ahead is to generate more widespread awareness and support for the event in Aroostook County and points south,” he said. “This not only lays a solid foundation for the work that lies ahead, but sends a clear message throughout the region of the critical importance of getting behind this initiative early on to set the stage for what will be a defining moment for our region.”
J.P. Martin and Sons Construction Corp. is a force in the region, having had a hand in many of the most significant construction projects in Aroostook County. In just the past few years, the firm served as general contractors for the newly constructed Hampton Inn in Presque Isle and Community Recreation and Wellness Center in Caribou. In the St. John Valley, the company participated in the construction of the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Van Buren in 2007 and the Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes building on the campus of the University of Maine at Fort Kent in 2004.
The World Acadian Congress was first held in the Moncton, New Brunswick, area in 1994. Since then, the event has been held in Louisiana, Nova Scotia and most recently in the Acadian Peninsula region of New Brunswick last summer. Festivities typically feature more than 300 events, which include family reunions, popular regional celebrations, ceremonies, sporting events, cultural events, shows, forums and conferences.
The economic spinoff for recent congresses has ranged from $30 million to $50 million in the host region.