BIDDEFORD — From Friday through Sunday, live music, dance and exhibitions are among the events that will take place at the fifth annual Fete du Printemps, a spring festival celebrating Franco-American cultural history in Biddeford and the surrounding areas.

The purpose of this event is “to promote Franco culture through the arts,” said John Maxson, an organizer of the festival. “It’s a different way to showcase our heritage.”

The event is unique, said Maxson, and he believes it is one of the few of its kind in   the country.

The festival has a significant youth component. Students at Biddeford Middle School, Biddeford High School and Thornton Academy in Saco will participate through performances and by displaying a variety of projects they created.

“The goal is to turn over (the festival) to the younger generation,” said Maxson. “That’s our future.

“I hope they get a sense they do have a strong cultural heritage and keep bringing it forward,” he said.

BHS students in foreign language instructor Dean Morin’s French IV class will be performing songs and dancing.

Many of the students involved in the weekend festival have at least some Franco heritage, with one or more of their ancestors having emigrated from the province of Quebec, Canada into Maine.

“I am French, so I want to know my heritage,” said BHS senior Katie Delcourt.

Jennifer Dubar, a BHS junior, said she wants to learn French to communicate with her mémère ”“ French for grandmother ”“ who speaks only French.

Morin said this is the third year he has involved his students in the spring festival.

“It makes them proud to recognize who they are, and they can identify with how their ancestors were,” he said.

In addition to students performing, some made projects, such as the students in BHS foreign language teacher Nancy Litrocapes’ French II classes. In one class, students created papier maché versions of hockey sticks and traditional Franco foods such as tourtiere and poutine ”“ items that Canadian immigrants brought with them to the U.S. and are still used today.

In another class, said Litrocapes, students created a bilingual quilt that contains all the lines of the poem “Frisson D’hiver” by Emile Nelligan, in both French and English.

Fete du Printemps begins Friday with an exhibition of Biddeford Middle School student projects at the McArthur Public Library at 270 Main St., from 5:30-7 p.m. Also on Friday, the musical group Crowfoot will perform at the City Theater, 205 Main St., at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, a multimedia presentation by students at Thornton Academy in Saco will take place at the City Theater at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday at 2 p.m. at the City Theater, students from BHS, BMS and TA will perform; a performance and mini Franco-American soiree will take place at 8 p.m., also at City Theater.

In addition, projects focused on Franco-American heritage created by BHS students will be on display at the McArthur Public Library from Saturday through early April.

All events are free and open to the public.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 324 or [email protected].



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