ABRAM-VILLAGE, P.E.I. - Wearing boots is an integral part of a farmer’s daily life, so what better way to get into the spirit of the 48th Acadian Festival and 116th Agricultural Exhibition than a friendly boot tossing competition that had individuals throwing a rubber boot as far as it could go in a straight line.
Lauretta Gallant was unsure if she could manage the rubber boot toss at first, but with her son Roger by her side the 88-year-old joyfully flung the boot into the sky while rekindling a fond memory of her youth.
“The festival was very different from today when I attended as a child,” she flashed a smiled. “It’s grown a lot since then with the big parade, but my fondest memories were getting an ice-cream with my family and participating in events like this that are open to everyone.”
Roger said the family of five came from Montreal to remember their Acadian roots at the festival, which ran from Wednesday Aug. 29 to Sunday Sept. 2.
“It’s a family tradition. My mother and father are from this area and we used to come every year when we were young kids to celebrate our heritage and our roots,” he said.
“Highlights for us include the boot toss, as well as seeing all the agriculture because we are city folk now and it’s something that we miss. The pole climbing, lobster supper at the end, the Crown and Anchor, if that’s still here, are also popular events for us,” he chimed.
Under the theme “Lots to Celebrate,” the event is a celebration of culture, tradition and Acadian language.
President of the Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival of the Evangeline Region, Jeanne Gallant, said there’s a variety of talent, entertainment and competitions.
“We continue to put a lot of value in our agriculture, as well as all the homemade stuff like the blankets and crafts in a permanent exhibition. But this year we have a school of 30 to 40 judges traveling from across the Atlantic provinces to learn and better themselves.
“We had a family dance at Club 50, a Lego shop in the arena called ‘Bricks 4 Kidz’ from Charlottetown, an obstacle course, talks by historian Georges Arsenault, combining the pole climbers and woodsmen competition, a fishermen’s competition in a circuit…” Gallant continued to list off the events.
“At the beginning the exhibition was alone, and then 48 years ago the festival started because they were finding the agricultural event was losing its character, especially for the francophone region, and we really wanted to make sure that it stayed as the French festival and exhibition,” she explained.
“We’re also really trying to put a lot of emphasis on our volunteers to thank them, so this year we are going to pick three names and give them prizes as a 'thank you' for their time."
The closing show on Sunday summed up the five-day theme for many that attended, “Let’s Celebrate our Families and Traditions.”