by Catherine Dunwoody

Friday March 23rd kicks off this annual Francophone festival and you don’t want to miss out. Musical artists, family cultural activities and of course fabulous food bring the big heated tents at Mackin Park in Maillardville, Coquitlam to life.

Festival du Bois is the largest festival of its kind in BC, bringing a little bit of Québécois culture to the west coast. Friday’s kick off includes the first-ever Friday Night Contra Dance, featuring live music from The Sybaritic String Band, Vancouver’s premier contradance band. What’s that exactly? Contra dancing is social dancing done in lines of couples to live traditional music. There’s a dance caller who teaches easy “figures” on the spot, like in square dancing, and prompts you during the dance. Fun!

Traditional poutine at the festival | Image courtesy of the Festival du Bois

But since we are all about the food here at WestCoastFood, we are super stoked about the booth at the festival where they sell cuisine traditionnelle. Try the pea soup, or go whole hog with the lumberjack plate, complete with traditional tourtière, pork and beans, coleslaw, bread and pate. Sweet tooth? Tuck into a slice of sugar pie, a favourite Quebecois dessert or stop at the André Beauregard Sugar Shack for maple taffy on snow.

Grab some tickets to the pancake and maple syrup breakfast Sunday at 10am for $7 adults, $3 children – but do note that this doesn’t include admission to the festival site itself.

On Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, musical groups include Le Vent du Nord, Bon Débarras, Les Chauffeurs à pieds, Mazacote, Gabriel Dubreuil, Jacky Essombe, Blackthorn, Podorythmie, Alouest, Boris Sichon, André Thériault, Alphonse et Lola and Vazzy.

Get schooled on Maillardville’s history at the “post office”, shop at the artisan kiosks carrying all kinds of crafts, and plan to stop at at C’est si Bon, a local food truck serving brioche sliders served with their famous pommes dauphines, crêpes, beef bourguignon, and pastries.

Maple Taffy | Image courtesy of the Festival du Bois

To fully embrace the spirit of the festival be sure to wear your plaid to honour the lumberjack heritage of the community and celebrate its French-Canadian pioneering history. And while you look the part, why not try your hand at axe throwing with the Axewood Crew, a fully mobile axe throwing experience?

In addition to the grand chapiteau (main stage – big tent) where the music will rock you day and night, pop by the children’s tent (petit chapiteau) in the zone jeunesse (youth zone), and the workshop tent (tente de ateliers), plus the folk jam tent where you get to play along, the improv tent, and pioneers tent.

Francophone family fun!

For tickets and information visit www.festivaldubois.ca.

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