With the Acadian holiday fast approaching, a host of events are planned to mark the occasion. While the Acadian World Congress takes place in the northwestern part of the province this month, Metro residents looking to get into the celebration spirit just need to find their way downtown over the next week.
Acadie Rock, a multifaceted celebration of music, poetry and family-friendly activities kicks off on Friday with a free noon-hour performance by fiddler Dominique Dupuis at Moncton City Hall.
The year marks the third edition of Acadie Rock, which takes its name from the influential 1973 novel written by Guy Arsenault. The festival came to life in 2012 after another Acadian-themed festival, “Le 15 aout des fous,” closed shop, leaving the City of Moncton with nothing in the way of an official Acadian celebration.
“There were celebrations taking place in Dieppe and in the northern, rural parts of the province but nothing in the City of Moncton itself. That’s the gap we were looking to fill with Acadie Rock,” festival artistic director Marc Arsenault says. “From the outset, we envisioned the festival encompassing a broad range of events and music. It is not uncommon to go from traditional Acadian artists through to modern acts. We are always looking at expanding our borders as far as content goes.”
With a large and proud Acadian population in southeastern New Brunswick, it’s no surprise that Acadie Rock has been warmly embraced.
Marc estimates that Acadie Rock attracted around 5,000 people during its first year – impressive numbers to say the least. Last year however, they eclipsed those figures and then some.
“We saw somewhere between a 300 per cent and 400 per cent growth at last year’s festival which, for only being the second year, was absolutely amazing,” he says. “Of course, we realize we are not going to experience that growth year after year.
“With every passing year though, it seems as though there are a lot of new events taking place. I think that a lot of people in Moncton are used to leaving the city at various points in the summer. But I feel that having so many different events happening during the summer, tourism seems to be picking up. I feel that a lot of Monctonians are opting to stay in the city to take in what is happening around them.”
Summer in southeastern New Brunswick has been a busy one thus far. In addition to Ribfest, the Codiac Music Festival and Mosaïq Multicultural Festival last month, and performances by country superstar Travis Tritt and Peter Frampton, and Sackville’s Sappyfest, there have been plenty of events to keep people occupied.
Asked if he harbours any concern that there may be too many events competing for a slice of the pie, Marc says that he believes there is room for everyone to be successful.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of keeping the city vibrant over the course of the summer is something that everyone involved with Acadie Rock finds truly exciting,” he says. “Maybe we will eventually reach the point where there is too much happening, but for the time being, I think there is room for everybody to create their niche and be successful.”
While the primary focus for Acadie Rock is to showcase francophone and Acadian acts, this year’s lineup also include Moncton rockers the Motorleague and Lousiana indie-rock band Sweet Crude.
Marc sees the inclusion of such acts as an essential part of the festival’s success now and in the future.
“This is not the first time we have had anglophone bands taking part in the festival. Both the Backyard Devils and John Jerome & the Congregation have performed in the last two years. Moncton is a bilingual city, and so to have anglophone acts take part in the festival just makes sense. The festival serves as an invitation to both the English and French communities to participate in the Acadian celebration.”
For a complete Acadie Rock schedule, visit their website.