FORT KENT, Maine — Something about hearing “collect them all,” makes me want to, well, collect them all. At the moment I am on the hunt for all 11 commemorative municipal coins issued for the 2014 World Acadian Congress, which is being celebrated in northern Maine and parts of New Brunswick and Quebec.
Eleven Maine communities accepted the invitation to create the coins and Acadian Congress participants are snapping them up.
Each coin has the World Acadian Congress logo and design on one side with a town-specific design on the other side.
The coins are available at a cost of $10 each at Paradis’ Shop ’n’ Save in Fort Kent, Martin’s General Store in Sinclair, Saucier’s IGA in Van Buren, The Little Red School House in Cyr Plantation, Bald Eagle in Eagle Lake and the town offices in Portage, Wallagrass, St. Agatha, Frenchville, Madawaska and Grand Isle.
Each coin is available only in its respective community, which is kind of cool, as it forms sort of an Acadian “numismatist” tour of Acadia of the Lands and Forests.
The coins were the brainchild of Madawaska Town Manager Christina Therrion, who was looking for something to unite the towns in northern Maine.
“Doing something like this is different from each town planning its own events like parades or festivals,” Therrien said. “This is one collective effort among the towns.”
The coins are hot items, Therrien said, with some towns running low already.
“I’m not surprised they sold so fast,” she said. “They are beautiful and when people see them they want them.”
“It’s been very well received,” Larry Duchette, Portage town manager said this week. “We are down to just 10 coins out of the 100 we ordered.”
Duchette, who said he has already bought his coins, thinks the uniqueness of the area’s hosting a World Acadian Congress is part of the draw to gather all the coins.
“We had one fellow come in and buy 10 for gifts,” Duchette said. “He had been traveling all over, knew the history of the coins [and] he stopped in, gave a little speech and off he went.”
In Frenchville Town Clerk Lina Ouellette said she was down to her last six coins.
“It’s a good souvenir,” she said. “The Acadian Congress is a rare occasion and this is a great way to commemorate it.”
There are all sorts of ways to take in 2014 World Acadian Congress events. Walk down any of the 55 participating municipalities’ Main Streets, participate in one of several bike tours or kayak adventures or grab a map, hop in your car and follow one of several established auto routes.
Tourism officials from Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec worked together to create the “Audio Tour Map for Acadia of the Lands and Forests.”
Forty-five attractions are listed throughout the region and charted on the map and include historic forts, museums, parks, farms, churches and outdoor recreation centers.
Accompanying the map is an audio CD (also available as an MP3 download) describing the various points of interest.
Maps and CDs are available from tourist information centers in Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec. PDF versions of the map and the audio download can be found online at www.cma2014.ca, www.tourismetemiscouata.qc.ca and www.visitaroostook.com.
Thanks to work by the Maine Department of Transportation’s scenic byways program, a new cultural byway, “La Route Culturelle de la Vallee St-Jean” also is highlighted by 28 interpretive signs located across the St. John Valley. The signs stretch from Allagash to Van Buren, telling the stories, history and folklore of the Acadians who settled and live in the region.
“I took a group from Quebec on the whole drive,” Don Raymond of Fort Kent said last week. “It took us 11 hours, but they wanted to stop and spend time at each location.”
Touring and learning about an area can work up an appetite. When that happens, grab the map for “Acadie Gourmet,” featuring everything from bakeries to wild hog farms and cheese makers to microbreweries around the region. Just leave plenty of room in your trunk for all the goodies you are bound to purchase.
There have been several publications coming out in time for the 2014 World Acadian Congress. Among them is “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” co-authored by 55 writers from around Acadia.
The official book launch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Expo-Monde in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, with a second event slated for 10 a.m. Aug. 19 at the Acadian Archives in Fort Kent.
It includes 65 essays and articles on Acadians and Cajuns currently living in Maine, Louisiana, Texas, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Quebec and France.
The authors looked at the past, present and future of the Acadians, while at the same time delving into the realities of contemporary Acadian and Cajun life.
Several of the authors will be on hand for the Grand Falls and Fort Kent events.
Friday is one of the World Acadian Congress’ so-called “pillar days,” (the opening held on Aug. 8 and the closing set for Aug. 24 are the other two) when crowds and traffic are anticipated to be the largest.
As the host municipality for Acadia Day on Friday, Madawaska is preparing for crowds estimated in the thousands for a large outdoor Mass that morning and the Tintamarre parade that evening.
Roads around the town will be closed and traffic detoured away from the Mass location at the multipurpose center in the morning and from Main Street for the parade early evening.
The Madawaska Town Office will be closed all day Friday and some businesses around town plan to close at noon.
Spanning two borders means the 2014 World Acadian Congress has events taking place in Maine and Canada, with participants moving back and forth between the two in higher-than-average numbers.
On Friday the bridge linking Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick, will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at noon for cars entering the U.S. from Canada and at 2 p.m. for those crossing from Maine into New Brunswick.
Shuttles will be available to take people from the bridge into Madawaska and Edmundston on that day.
To help keep traffic down in Madawaska, shuttle buses also will be running all day from multiple points around the St. John Valley. A complete schedule and location of park and rides is available online atwww.cma2014.com/images/PDF/newnavettes.pdf
A listing of Aug. 15 road closures and detours in Madawaska is under the “logistics” tab on the World Acadian Congress online site at www.cma2014.com/.