AUGUSTA — A legislative committee voted Tuesday to allocate $250,000 to support the World Acadian Congress, an international event planned for northern Maine in 2014.

Several lawmakers from northern Maine, including Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, told the Appropriations Committee that the celebration of Acadian heritage will draw thousands of people to the state and give northern Maine a much-needed economic boost.

“Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Rep. Bernard Ayotte, R-Caswell. “I’m sure everyone will want to be French for the Acadian Congress.”

Maine is working with New Brunswick and southeastern Quebec to organize the event, from Aug. 8-24 in 2014, said Jason Parent, president of the Maine delegation. Gov. Paul LePage has allocated $250,000 for the event. Parent and others are asking lawmakers to find an additional $250,000 to provide more support.

“This is first and foremost an economic development initiative,” Parent said. “We see tremendous potential for our region as it’s discovered through this activity.”

The World Acadian Congress is held every five years. It has been hosted in Louisiana, Nova Scotia and other areas since 1994. The festival features family reunions — Parent estimated there will be 125 in 2014 — as well as concerts and other activities.

The state has committed to funding $1 million in total, which will likely come in $250,000 increments. The federal government has pledged $1 million, and members of Congress are continuing to work to secure the funding, Parent said. The Canadian government has pledged $3 million.

Parent estimated that the event will draw $50 million in revenue for the region.

The Appropriations Committee voted unanimously in support of the bill, L.D. 565. The bill originally called for $500,000, but that was reduced to $250,000 because the other half is already in LePage’s budget proposal. The remaining $500,000 would have to be allocated in future budgets.

“I’m happy to support it,” said Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, the Senate chairman of the committee.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]