Bienvenue a Madawaska! The 33rd annual Acadian Festival kicks off today with lots of events in and around Madawaska, and lasts until Sunday, June 27. Each year, the festival honors one of the pioneer families of the St. John Valley. For 2010, that’s the Gagnon family, who will have a family reunion all weekend. According to the website www.gagnonreunion.com, the Gagnons first came to North America in 1635, when three brothers, Mathurin, Jean and Pierre, and their cousin Robert came to Quebec from France. All Gagnons living in the United States and Canada are descendents of those four.
In honor of them, a wide array of activities has been planned, not limited to specific reunion activities. On Thursday, a watermelon-eating contest is set for 10 a.m., followed by bridge and charlemagne card tournaments and a performance from the La Famille LeBlanc Family Band at 7:30 p.m. at Bicentennial Park in Madawaska. A townwide yard sale and merchant sidewalk sale will be offered all day, each day. An art show is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street, and music will be offered in the park all afternoon, including Les Chanteurs Acadien at 11 a.m., Arthur LeBlanc at noon and Lionel Doucette and Joan Baron at 1:15 p.m. A bed race will be held at 6 p.m., followed by the first Tintamarre, an old Acadian tradition involving making as much loud noise as possible. Performances from the Blue Daniel Band, Undecyded and Turning Point will follow.
Saturday will feature the 20th Maine Regiment Company B Civil War Re-enactors, a classic car show, and music from Le Duo Audio Mojo, Blou and Bonnie Edward and the Practical Cats. Sunday will wind down with a parade, a chicken barbecue and a fireworks display.