The Festival

History

The Festival acadien de Caraquet: a leader in cultural promotion in Acadia for almost 50 years

The Festival acadien de Caraquet: a leader in cultural promotion in Acadia for almost 50 years
Since its inception as a simple village party in 1963, the Festival acadien has showcased culture as a vital component of its programming. In the early years, community theatre shared the spotlight with the Blessing of the Fleet. The year 1966 marked the appearance of the first “boîtes à chansons” and, in 1969, the first “Gala de la chanson” made its debut.

Between 1975 and 1980, the Festival took on new depth, with expanded programming and increased budgets. The first L’Acadie en Fête was held in 1974 and, in 1979, the first Tintamarre. These two National Acadian Day celebrations became the flagship activities of the Festival.

In the mid-1980s, the Festival acadien was listed, for the very first time, as one of the top 100 tourist events in North America by the American Bus Association. Since then, it has appeared a dozen times on this prestigious list. In 2003, the Festival was immortalized on a collectable coin in the Royal Canadian Mint’s Canadian Festivals Series, along with the Quebec Carnival and other celebrations.

By 1987, the Festival acadien de Caraquet was already being dubbed “the cultural event in Acadia.” The early 1990s witnessed a new boost in attendance, but the major turning point came with the arrival of the new millennium. Participation in the roster of Festival activities skyrocketed from 75,000 in 2000 to 100,000 in 2001. The Festival is now a two-week celebration, from August 1 to 15, jam-packed with activities of the highest calibre.

In 2002, the Festival celebrated its 40th anniversary to huge success. The improved calibre and diversity of its programming proved a winning formula, with some 125,000 people taking part in the various anniversary activities.

Year after year, Acadians converge by the thousands on Caraquet to celebrate their heritage and the vitality of their culture. The Festival acadien has become not only “the” cultural event of Acadia but also a major tourist attraction.

Today, extensive media coverage has transformed the Festival acadien into a top-notch promotional vehicle for the tourist industry of the Acadian Peninsula and the province. In 2002, the Festival received more media exposure than any other event or tourist attraction in New Brunswick. That year alone, more than 20 hours of television programming were produced at the Festival and broadcast nationwide on five networks: Radio-Canada, ARTV, RDI, TVA and TV5. This included a series of 13 episodes of “En spectacle au Festival acadien” produced at a cost of $750,000 by Connections Productions, in partnership with the Festival and the television networks of Radio-Canada and ARTV.

The Festival has also benefited for many years from radio coverage by Radio-Canada 1, which has taped shows from the site for broadcast across its network and even on CBC Radio. In 2002, the new Réseau francophone d’Amérique debuted a daily broadcast of a show originating from the Festival acadien de Caraquet on several of its stations.

The promotional and tourism value of all these radio and television shows, coupled with major coverage in the written and electronic press, has amounted to several hundreds of thousands of dollars—a remarkable achievement. In 2003, the Festival added a new series of concerts entitled “Les Classiques d’août.” In 2004, other noteworthy events joined the roster as the Festival mounted special programming around the 400th anniversary of the founding of Acadia. The same year witnessed a noisy, colourful and flamboyant celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Festival’s famous Tintamarre.

Throughout its 40-year history, the Festival acadien de Caraquet has made a major contribution to developing the Acadian identity. Through its Gala de la chanson, the Festival has been the launch pad and training ground for most of Acadia’s singers. Its mission is to help Acadian performers along their career path by regularly showcasing their talent in its programming.

While song has always been a prominent feature of the Festival acadien, its programming has long afforded an important place to theatre, classical music and the visual arts. The Festival’s goal is to present the greatest possible number of forms of artistic expression. At times, its programming has melded jazz, dance, films, storytelling, poetry and much more.

Each year, the Festival acadien presents more than 200 artists of various disciplines from Acadia and, increasingly, from French-speaking Canada and around the world. Today the Festival has become a popular cultural and artistic event that is accessible to all. Its programming reaches out to the young and the young at heart with affordable pricing that encourages everyone to join in the fun.

Festival acadien de Caraquet is a non-profit organization, overseen by a board of directors whose members come from the community, and is administered by staff under the direction of an executive and artistic director. Its success counts on the selfless commitment of its many volunteers.

The Festival’s operating budget is now close to $1 million. Its cultural vision is supported by the business community, which recognizes its essential contribution to the local economy. Various levels of government are also a vital source of funding.

Since 1997, the Festival acadien de Caraquet has guided the fortunes of the Festival acadien de poésie, and has also been a partner, since 1999, of the Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie.

In 2004, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Acadia, the Festival mounted three major projects: the ArtCADIE exhibition, the L’Acadie en chanson album and the Ode à l’Acadie show that continues to be popular today.

The 2009 Tintamarre, which drew 40,000 participants, will forever be remembered as the largest gathering of its type in Acadian history!