Fête au Village reaches milestone this weekend

By Stephen Dafoe

Legal – When the gates of Citadel Park open Friday night, they open for a community festival celebrating a half century of existence. Fête au Village turned 50 this year and organizers were eager to make this year’s festival worthy of the occasion.

“They’ve tried to expand Fête au Village in itself to have more events and more exciting events,’ said festival vice chair Robyn Witter, adding a number of key events, including an outdoor movie night for families and a soap box derby for children, have been added to this year’s roster of activities.

The event kicks off Friday night with a number of Fête au Village traditions: children’s mini parade, chili cook off and the community tug-o-war. The addition to this year’s Friday night opening is the outdoor movie at 9 p.m. inside the ball diamond. Although admission is free for the majority of Friday night activities, Witter said there is a $2 admission for the movie.

“Friday night is a really good family fun night,” she said. “There’s a lot of good stuff going on that everyone can enjoy.”

Saturday will also see an expansion of activities beginning with the Fête parade. Organizers have lined up a few extras to travel up Main Street along with the regular roster of floats. Witter said Bailey the Buffalo and some stilt walkers have been added to the mix. The former will be in the park after the parade for people to see up close, and the stilt walkers will host a clinic, allowing people a chance to see what it is like to walk a little taller.

Gate admission Saturday includes the annual pancake breakfast as well as a number of free and low cost events, some new and some familiar. While organizers have what they believe to be an exciting mix, they know what the big draw is likely to be again this year.

“The demolition [derby] is always the biggest attraction,” Witter said. “We’re hoping to have a really good crowd for that again and more bleachers.” She attributes the popularity of the annual event to the simple notion of men running into cars. “It’s one of our biggest attractions and it always has been. I think it’s just that this is one of the only times you can actually hit somebody and not get charged or fined.”

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But the demolition derby is not the only four-wheeled excitement Saturday. The festival committee have added a show and shine with an anticipated 100 vehicles, and a soap box derby, the latter an event for young people that gives a nod to Fetes of years gone by. “Kids have been able to buy kits from the Town office and, for a $5 registration fee, race these little soap boxes,” Witter said. “There’s no motor – it’s a push start. It’ll be on the road right in front of our Fete grounds.”

It’s all about community

Putting on a large festival in a town of 1,200 residents is no small undertaking. Witter attributes the success of the annual event to the sense of community and dedication of residents and volunteers to making Fete au Village a success.

“It doesn’t matter what fair or the size of town you have; to put on something like that it takes a huge amount of manpower and behind-the-scenes work,” Witter explained. “It’s a tremendous sight to see such a small town put on such a huge event, and the commitment the town has to it. You can just feel the community atmosphere and the safety for the kids.” For Witter it is all part of living in a small town that pulls together its volunteers when the need is there.

Fête au Village takes place July 27 and 28 at Citadel Centre Grounds. The Friday night parade (7 p.m.) and Saturday parade (10:30 a.m.) take place on Main Street.

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