Editor’s note: The dates in the version of this story that ran in Monday’s paper were inaccurate. The dates have been corrected in this version and new material has been added.
LEWISTON — Greek food. Poutine. Pichenotte. Song and dance. And more song and dance.
All that and more is promised at the first L/A Festival Weekend that will take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8, with the combined forces of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center and Museum L-A.
Mitch Thomas, executive director of the Franco Center, said, “The longstanding anchor of the Festival Weekend is the annual Lewiston-Auburn Greek Festival.”
The popular festival will take place both days, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 155 Hogan Road.
The festival offers traditional Greek food, music, dancing and more. “Traditional Greek dinners, a la carte items, appetizers, pastries and other desserts and beverages will all be available and for sale,” Thomas said. For more information, go to lagreekfestival.com.
Also happening Friday night is “Dance Party Under the Stars II,” hosted by Museum L-A near the shores of the Androscoggin River.
Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of Museum L-A, said she has been asked to bring the dance event back since Dance Party Under the Stars I.
“We did a big exhibit on the Power of Music — ’50s and ’60s — so we held a dance to celebrate the era of Pal Hop and Garage Bands,” Desgrosseilliers said. “Since we keep being asked when we will be doing it again, we decided to do it this year, but on our new site near Simard-Payne Memorial Park.”
Before the event, Desgrosseilliers said several local restaurants will be partnering with Museum L-A to offer discounts or themed specialty drinks or meals to enhance the dance party experience. At the actual event, desserts crafted by culinary arts students from The Green Ladle will be available.
Desgrosseilliers said the community has recently lost several amazing musicians, so museum officials decided to hold the dance to honor their memories.
And, Desgrosseilliers said, “we work closely with the Franco Center, and they were doing a poutine “feast-ival,” and then it was also the Greek Festival weekend so we said, let’s make it a festival weekend.”
The dance is scheduled for 7 to 11 p.m. at Museum L-A’s future home at 1 Beech St. Tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the gate. For information call Museum L-A at 207-333-3881 or visit museumla.org.
On Saturday, as the Greek Festival revs up for its second day, the first “Poutine Feast-ival” will run from 4 to 8 p.m. hosted by the Franco Center.
Thomas said the Franco Center has wanted to have a poutine-focused event for a while, and recently the Quebec government reached out about having an event in Lewiston to coincide with other similar events across New England.
“The only weekend we could make it work was the same weekend as the Greek Festival,” Thomas said, so he immediately reached out to the Greek Orthodox Church to make sure that was OK.
They decided to use the opportunity to cross-promote their events in the hopes of drawing an even larger crowd.
“It creates more of a draw, especially for out-of-town people, to come to the events,” Thomas said.
Francis Gagnon, the organizer of the event, said Oxford Street, outside of the Franco Center, will be transformed into a block party with food trucks and vendors showcasing a variety of poutine and Franco treats. Inside the Franco Center more food and drinks will be offered.
Booklets for four food or beverage choices are available for $25 if pre-ordered and $35 at the gate.
Other treats offered will be tourtiere, maple cotton candy, beaver tails, crepes and lemonade smoothies.
The event is described as a “foodie’s dream” and will also offer music and a pichenotte tournament beginning at 3 p.m. Pichenotte is a traditional French-Canadian board game.
“Start practicing your skills to meet the challenge against 40 other teams,” said Gagnon. Winner of the tournament will receive the L/A pichenotte trophy. Call 207-783-1585, visit francocenter.org or find it on Facebook to register and for more information.
“We’re always looking for ways to not only promote our events but promote our cities. It’s good to help each other,” Thomas said. “This is a great community. A lot of people find out when they get here how beautiful it is.”
Thomas said if the weekend goes well, organizers are hoping to make it even bigger next year to showcase more of the cultural diversity and heritage of Lewiston-Auburn.
“We truly hope this will be just the first of many late-summer events like this one in our beautiful, multicultural community, where there is room to grow,” he said.
File photo of the 2017 Greek Festival courtesy of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.