This weekend’s Red Deer Winter Carnaval will be a sweet taste of French Canadian culture.
The family festivities run from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 25th at Festival Hall, with maple taffy on snow, French Canadian pea soup, and maple syrup pudding. There is also a dinner on Feb. 24th.
Red Deer’s chapter of the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA) is hosting the event.
“The main thing is to share our culture. We are very, very inclusive and that’s what we want to do. We want a happy family event and we take the opportunity to share our culture. Usually starting with food is a great idea,” said Bruno Collet, regional director for the ACFA.
This will be the eighth annual Carnaval, Red Deer’s own version of the Quebec festival, which will also feature games, live entertainment and a clown.
With the exception of the food, which will be provided at low cost, it’s all free.
Carnaval holds great cultural significance for French Canadians, Collet said.
“Winter can be fun. That’s why they started that in Quebec City,” he said. “It’s been in the French Canadian culture, especially the east part of Canada, forever.”
The maple syrup taffy on snow is an especially popular part of the festival.
“We call them sugar bugs, people who are hooked on maple taffy on snow because they cannot make it at home. They call us at home in October asking, ‘Hey Bruno, you have any maple taffy on snow this year and when is it happening,’” Collet said.
The Friday portion of the festival is the Sugar Shack Dinner, which includes a meal, live music and a cash bar.
Tickets cost $25 each. Five dollars from each one of the 110 tickets available will be donated to the Red Deer women’s shelter.
Collet said there are nine women on the ACFA Red Deer board, a factor into their decision to support the cause.
“We met with the management of the women’s shelter and we liked what they were doing. I brought that to the board and it was an easy decision,” he said.
The Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta or French Canadian Association in Alberta is an organization that shares French Canadian culture and gathers its members for social activities. Collet said 80% of its members are bilingual.