LEWISTON — French fries, cheese curds and gravy created a winning blend Saturday at the inaugural L/A Poutine Feast-ival.
Oxford Street was filled with the smell of fresh poutine and the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center was filled with excited pichenotte tournament players.
Event organizer Francis Gagnon said all of the food aside from the poutine was altered to make it more Franco-American. The fried dough truck made beavertails with maple butter and sugar and the cotton candy truck made maple cotton candy in addition to more traditional flavors.
Gagnon said he was interested in the event because of poutine’s growing popularity in the United States.
“It’s been around forever in Quebec and Canada,” Linda Scott of Lewiston said, but she was happy to see its influence spreading.
Poutine is traditionally a dish of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in gravy.
Local food trucks Pinky D’s Poutine Factory and Tripp’s Farmhouse Cafe brought other flavors to the traditional dish by adding lobster, buffalo chicken, sriracha or bacon and ranch dressing.
Tripp’s also had a dessert option made with sweet potato fries, marshmallows and chocolate sauce.
Other Franco-American options were fresh-made crepes from Lewiston food truck Crepe Bar and franks and beans provided by the Franco Center kitchen.
Pre-ordered passes were $25 for four food vouchers, $35 if purchased on the day of the event. Most items cost one voucher, while several of the larger or more expensive options were two vouchers.
Gagnon said the ticket and voucher system was something they wanted to experiment with for the event, which is a fundraiser for the Franco Center.
“It’s our first year, we’re just getting started, and it’s a beautiful day,” he said.
While the food was being consumed outside, a full-blown, 16-team pichenotte tournament was taking place inside the center.
Sadie Landry and her husband, Jay, who live in Lewiston, hosted and refereed the tournament. Sadie said this was the third they’ve hosted in the past three years, but the first that was not at their home.
Pichenotte, a French-Canadian tabletop game, is usually a board with black and red squares, small nets in each of the four corners similar to a pool table, and lines that denote from where the pieces can be played.
Small, usually wooden, pieces are flicked using the thumb and index or middle finger to move colored pieces of the same size into one of the four corner nets.
The game is usually played with two teams of two people, each person getting a turn clockwise around the board. If you get a piece in the net, you get another turn. Whichever team’s game pieces are off the board first wins.
“The Franco society perfected the game and brought it here, where we’ve made it as fun as possible,” said Jay Landry, a previous tournament champion.
The main rules of the game are to stay seated and to not pass the line, he said.
The official rule book for Saturday’s tournament said: “Trash talk is part of the French way in pichenotte, no crying allowed.”
Bill Gladu, a friend of the Landrys, said the game is “very popular in places with long spells of a snowy and dark climate.”
Marc Mailhot, of Mailhot Sausage, also a friend of the Landrys, is a huge fan of the game. He donated to the prize package a tour of the Mailhot facility and a cooler full of handpicked products.
Also in the prize package were two camping chairs, a new pichenotte game board and the sought-after “Golden Nut” trophy, named for the pieces with which the game is played.
“Every year, we have cheesy trophies to give, but not this year. We have nice ones,” Sadie Landry said.
The tournament even brought a few international players and spectators, including Mario and Bianca Blais of Quebec, Canada.
Mario said they came “to meet the people of Lewiston, and for the trophy.”
Results were not available late Saturday.
Ryan Bellemore, left, takes a turn during the pichenotte tournament at the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday. Bellemore and his father, Adam, right, took on Bellemore’s brother, Isaac, lower, and Everett Mailhot, center, during the tournament that was part of the L/A Poutine Feast-ival. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Marcela Peres and her husband, Kevin McGrory, of Lewiston wait for their order of poutine outside the Pinky D’s Poutine Factory food truck during the L/A Poutine Feast-ival at the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Oxford Street was closed to traffic and filled with festival-goers and food trucks during the L/A Poutine Feast-ival at the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Randy Smith hands Bianca Blais of Quebec an order of poutine from the Pinky D’s Poutine Factory food truck during the L/A Poutine Feast-ival at the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Renee Powers of Brunswick and Ricardo Silva of Brazil enjoy poutine during the L/A Poutine Feast-ival on Saturday. Ricardo, 15, is an exchange student who is staying with Powers during the fall semester at Brunswick High School. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Sadie Holm Landry of Lewiston made the trophies for the pichenotte tournament. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)