LEWISTON – Two years after the annual Festival de Joie fell apart – ending a 13-year run of celebrating Franco-American music, food and dance – its successor is growing up.
The 2nd Annual Festival FrancoFun is consolidating under one roof, opening more performances to bigger audiences this year.
Leaders of the Franco-American Heritage Center, who run the new festival, have brought all of the events into the 4,500-seat, city-owned Colisee.
“We’ve rented the entire facility for three days,” said Rita Dube, the Franco center’s executive director.
Last year’s inaugural festival was split between the Colisee and the Cedar Street center, which confused many patrons, Dube said.
This time, people can see everything under a single roof.
Organizers hope to recreate some of the events that have been successful for many years. Returning are child singer Melanie Saucier, the remaining members of the C’est Si Bon Band and Jean-Guy Piche.
Piche, Saturday night’s headliner, has been a big draw for both festivals.
He’s known for friendly flirtation with the women in the audience and his do-anything-for-the-crowd style, which includes standing on tables.
“He’s an entertainer,” Dube said. “He knows how to get people worked up.”
The C’est Si Bon Band will play as a tribute to its former leader, Ray Chouinard. He died last November. His band, a staple of the Festival de Joie, has been visiting a variety of festivals around the region to say goodbye to its regular audiences.
Other featured performers include storyteller Louis Philippe and a reunion of the Moon Dawgs, a band that was popular in local clubs in the 1960s and ’70s.
During Friday’s 6 p.m. opening ceremony, the festival will feature the mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival, a snowman named “Bonhomme Carnaval.”
The festival will offer meals all day each day, including the popular crepe breakfasts and dinner items such as blood sausage, creton (spicy pork paté) and an assortment of meat pies.
Saturday evening will feature a bean supper.
And unlike last year, when the Colisee ran out of beans at 5 p.m., this year’s supper is guaranteed to have plenty, Dube said. Organizers bought 175 pounds of uncooked beans to prepare for the popular dinner.
As with the Festival de Joie, people may enjoy the meals at the Colisee without paying admission.
Parking will be free for all events.
Go and do
What: Festival FrancoFun
When: Friday-Sunday, Aug. 3-5
Where: Androscoggin Bank Colisee, Lewiston
Admission: $10 per day; $25 for a three-day pass
FMI: 783-1585 or www.festivalfrancofun.com