The 38th Annual Chautauqua and French-Canadian/Metis Festival starts Friday, Aug. 23, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 25, at Old Crossing and Treaty Park at Huot, Minn.
It’s a celebration of the culture of early pioneers and voyageurs of this region as told through music, entertainment, traditional dancing, craft demonstrations and specialty foods, said Jerry Amiot, event organizer, of Crookston.
The festival, sponsored by the Association of the French of the North, kicks off Friday with a potluck picnic at 6:30 p.m., followed by a bonfire, with music and storytelling, at 8:30 p.m.
The popular Asham Stompers, a jig and square dance group from Manitoba, will perform at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“They are a highlight of the event,” said Amiot, AFRAN treasurer. “This will be their fifth appearance on our stage.”
The group has given more than 200 performances, including six at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.
New to the event, storyteller and author Jan Smith will present, “Cooking on the Ox Cart Trail - 1858,” at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“She will be dressed like someone who would have accompanied the voyageurs who were bringing furs from Winnipeg to St. Paul,” Amiot said.
The musical group “Double the Trouble,” from Winnipeg, performs at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The 15-year-old French Metis and Cree twin-brother fiddlers, along with their father on guitar, have performed traditional Metis and contemporary folk music throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Attendees will be able to watch demonstrations of crafts from yesteryear, including wool-spinning and -carding, butter-making, rope-making and baking bread in an earthen oven.
There will be three encampments in tents where people can visit with the demonstrators and learn about crafts and skills used by pioneers and voyageurs who came through in the 1800s, Amiot said.
At the trading post, which is open each day, guests can purchase historical books and meet Tim Brosseau, Bottineau, N.D., who makes handmade toys and other items in the manner of early settlers. Daily activities also include a membership tent and silent auction.
Attendees can sample French specialty food such as tourtiere, a meat pie, during the festival. Warren Sai, of Grand Forks, will be making crepes onsite on Sunday, Amiot said.
Activities are free; donations are welcome to help cover the costs of the festival, he said.
The festival location is nine miles southwest of Red Lake Falls, Minn., or seven miles northeast of Gentilly, Minn., on County Road 11. Follow the brown park signs, Amiot said.
The event is funded in part by the McKnight Foundation and Red Lake County.
For more information, go to www.FrenchCanadianAFRAN.org or contact Amiot at 218-289-8889 or Virgil Benoit at 218-253-2270.