Five things to do
Opening Day Festivities in Edmundston, New Brunswick, all day, Friday, Aug. 8 — The Congress opens bright and early on Friday with a sunrise ceremony involving both Acadians and First Nations representatives that will symbolically erase the border. There’s a party from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Botanical Gardens in Edmundston, and music and circus performers from 5 p.m. onward in Turgeon Park.
Cross Border Tug of War, 3 p.m. Aug. 10, Van Buren, Maine, and Saint-Leonard, New Brunswick — Pick your side — Van Buren in the U.S. or Saint-Leonard in New Brunswick — and get in on the action. The border will be up for grabs for a little bit as Acadians fight it out to see which side wins. Flex those arm muscles; you’re going to need them.
Experience Acadia Installation, E.P. Senechal Center, Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Aug. 14-23 — Music, food, children’s activities, aerial demonstrations and cultural installations will be on display for nine full days in Grand Falls, just a half hour from Limestone and Van Buren. The E.P. Senechal Center will host a grand pavilion of all things Acadian from morning to evening from Aug. 14 through 23, taking Aug. 15 off.
Tintamarre — Afternoon and evening of Friday, Aug. 15, Madawaska — A tintamarre is a cacophony, an Acadian procession in which people make a whole lot of noise with anything that whistles, clangs or clatters. The big one is set for Madawaska on Aug. 15. You can make your own noise maker from 1 to 5 p.m. in downtown; the parade is set for 6 p.m. Afterward, enjoy music from Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Boreal Tordu at 9:30 p.m. at the Multifunctional Centre.
International Acadian Community Theater Festival — Throughout festival, various locations — French language plays and storytelling experiences are set for six days throughout the festival, in locations including Lac Temiscouata National Park and Saint-Juste-Sur-Le-Lac in Quebec, Edmonston and Kedgwick in New Brunswick and in Madawaska. A full schedule of plays and performances can be found on the website.
Four things to eat
Pig roast — One of the proudest Acadian treats has got to be the pig roast — delicious whole roast pig, enough for the whole family and then some. Some of the pig roasts planned include ones in Portage Lake (4 p.m. Aug. 16), Saint-Jacques, Quebec (5 p.m. Aug. 16) and Saint-Juste-De-Lac, Quebec (5 p.m. Aug. 23).
Ployes — Buckwheat pancakes. A true Acadian original. What better place to try them than at the Ployes Festival in Fort Kent, set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8. Try them with butter, with maple syrup, with whatever you’d like. Delicious.
Poutine — The French-Canadian treat (fries, gravy and cheese curds) is beloved by Acadians, Montrealers and Americans, too. Try it wherever you’d like — at a World Acadian Congress event, at a restaurant, at Quebec fast food joint Belle Province.
Tourtiere — A meat pie usually made with pork or beef, pronounced “toot-chay,” it’s more traditionally eaten during the winter and the holidays, but if you can sniff some out some during the Congress, do so.
Three things to do with kids
Swimming Day at Lac Baker, Saturday, Aug. 9 — If it’s hot out, take the kids to Baker Lake Beach, just north of Madawaska in New Brunswick. There’s a family swimming day from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.
Kid’s Day, Wednesday, Aug. 13 — The best day to go with kids, of course, is Kid’s Day, Aug. 13. There’s a kids day camp from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Madawaska Elementary School, there’s the Acadian Village in Van Buren from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and there’s a kids tintamarre at 2 p.m. in Saint Quentin, New Brunswick, among many others.
Circus Stella performance, 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24 — On the final day of the Congress, take the whole family to Parc Clair Soleil in Temiscouata to enjoy the juggling, tumbling, stilt-walking Circus Stella.
Two things to remember about crossing the border
You need a passport or passcard to cross the border. No ifs, ands or buts. There are border crossings in Madawaska/Edmundston, Van Buren/Saint Leonard, Hamlin/Grand Falls and Fort Kent/Clair.
However, if you are a parent or legal guardian traveling with your child who is 16 or under, that child only needs a birth certificate, not a passport or card. If they are 17 and older, they’ll need a passport or card. If you are traveling without their other parent, be sure to have a letter from the other parent saying it’s OK to cross the border (or documentation if you have sole custody).
One place to look for lodging
Though there are lots of way to look for a hotel, motel, B&B or rental house, the World Acadian Congress website has a pretty definitive listing of all sorts of places to stay. If you haven’t made reservations yet, it might be a tight squeeze — but if you’re willing to look outside larger towns, you’ll probably find something. Visit http://www.cma2014.com/en/services/hebergement to search.