LaKermesse Franco Americaine Festival returns to Biddeford June 23, after a two year absence due to covid. All events, except the parade, take place at St. Louis Field. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Photo

BIDDEFORD – LaKermesse Franco Americaine Festival returns Thursday, June 23, promising a vast array of music, song, games, a parade  and more – along with traditional French foods to whet the appetite and bring back memories – or make new ones.

Who hasn’t listened to the LeBlanc Family musicians of Livermore Falls and not tapped their toes?

Who, with roots in these parts, haven’t tasted a slice of pork pie or salmon pie and have not, for a moment, been brought back to their childhood, whether that was in the 1940s or 50s or a year or two ago?

Who isn’t ready to hear pop tunes of the 80s, or an Aerosmith tribute band?

How about free crepes on Sunday?

A newcomer to the festival? Enjoy those pork pies, or a plate of poutine, or some other ethnic delicacy.


And who doesn’t love a car show, a great game of cornhole, or, for the young ones, a bounce house?

All aboard for LaKermesse Franco Americaine Festival, starting June 23. Courtesy Photo

This is the first LaKermesse since 2019, and organizers hope people will turn out to enjoy themselves, listen to some music from an array of bands, greet old friends and family members and have fun. The event runs through Sunday. Most events will take place at St. Louis Field.

The committee is looking to foster a family friendly event, organizers say.

“The population of Biddeford and York County is changing,” said LaKermesse vice president Ray Gagne. “We’re trying to keep the French culture alive.”

Alive and kicking, with fun.

The festival begins at St. Louis Field on Thursday June 23 at 4.m. with a Cruisin’ Night Car Show, where folks can bring their vintage wheels and show them off. The first 100 folks who register get a gift box with all sorts of rewards inside. Registration is $10 and may be done in advance at:


The LaKermesse Parade, at 6 p.m. Friday, begins at the corner of Jefferson and South Street, proceeds down Jefferson, turns right on Alfred Street and up to Graham Street extension, makes a left turn onto West Street and continues to St. Louis Field.

Opening ceremonies begin at 8 p.m. Friday under the main tent.

There are bounce house activities, carnival games, and the like. There are food vendors, crafters, and others. – and lots of music, like Girls Just Want to have Fun, the R.B. Hall Memorial Band, Delilah and Friends, Josee Vachon, the LeBlanc Family, Kris Hype, American Ride, and more playing at various times.

The Alumni Band plays on the field on Sunday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Touch- a- Truck is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and festival activities wind down at 6 p.m. that day.

Ray Gagne, who has volunteered for 37 years, and Paul Gagne, for 30, took note of some committee members who contributed of their time to make the festival enjoyable and who have recently passed away:  Bob Provencher, Aurelle Paquette, Rev. Reynald Labarre and Rene Theriault.


Ray Gagne said he hopes other ethnic groups will become involved and help  keep the vision of founder Joseph Plamondon – who planned the festival but passed away before the first one in 1983 – strong.

Paul Gagne, the festival treasurer – and no relation to Ray “unless you go back to the 1600s,” he said, cited the Biddeford Cultural and Heritage Center, which hosts a Cultural Cuisine Tasting Event 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 25 at the festival, as an example.

LaKermesse Franco Americaine Festival is a gathering around which  people often plan their holidays.

“You hear them say “we’ll see you next year,” said Paul Gagne. “It’s our time to meet.”

And with Biddeford’s rejuvenated mills full of apartment dwellers, Ray Gagne said he hopes people who may be new to the community come out to the event, get involved, and help keep it thriving.

Festival Buttons are $13 in advance through June 22; $15 at the gate and available online or at a list of locations; a full day-by-day schedule and more is at: Children 6 and younger get in free and Sunday is free, for all.


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