Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Festival du Voyageur 2011

My visit to Voyageur Park...

Founded in 1969 by a group of Saint-Boniface entrepreneurs, this once three-day event, held in Winnipeg’s French Quarter, has evolved into a 10-day province-wide celebration of sights, sounds, snow and spirit. Dubbed “The World’s Largest Kitchen Party”, Festival du Voyageur celebrates the joie de vivre of the fur traders, who established the Red River Colony and the ever-growing French-Canadian community in Western Canada. The spirit and culture of the Voyageur is present in the vibrant community that comes together to celebrate, every February, their history through this event. In honor of the Voyageur spirit, the Festival du Voyageur’s emphasis is on the beauty of winter, with numerous historical, educational and entertaining activities – truly something for every age and every taste!

Snow Sulptures
Together a team of sculptor work to transform Whittier Park into a magical place called Voyageur Park. The sculptors manage, every year, to transform 450,000 ft3 of snow into a winter wonderland. From the moment you set foot in Voyageur Park, you are greeted by a gigantic sculpture reaching up to 50ft long and 18ft high. A little further, you’ll come across a fantasy land for the adventurous little ones who aren’t afraid to make the most out of a refreshing winter day!
In the month leading to Festival du Voyageur Winnipeg metamorphoses into a city-wide outdoor gallery. Sculptures can be seen all over town and are a friendly reminder that Festival du Voyageur is just around the corner. Every year, Festival’s sculptors create unique pieces varying in style and size, bringing life and joy to the then hibernating neighbourhoods. Every resident or visitor that passes by one of these sculpture witnesses a unique creation that will be forever lost when spring settles back in.

Storytelling inside a tipi

 First Nations EncampmentAt Voyageur Park, one can learn about the aboriginal communities whose contribution to the fur trade were essential to the success of the voyageurs at Fort Gibraltar and across the Northwest. Walk inside a tipi and explore the diverse and complex culture of the first inhabitants of the Red River. Stories, legends and folklore will surely fascinate you.

Whet your appetite with some delicious Voyageur fare!
Upon your visit to the Festival, be sure to partake in some of the delicious food and beverages available. Some of the 'must-try's are the Tortierre (meat pie served with gravy), Pea Soup, Bannock, Poutine and of course a visit to the Sugar Shack for some Maple Syrup on a stick!

To wash it all down, be sure to try the Fort Gibraltar Lager, a Canadian style Lager golden in colour, medium in body with a hint of caramel and finishes clean. Voyageur beer of choice at the Festival du Voyageur. Another option is Caribou, a fortified wine that was once consumed following a long Caribou hunt in Quebec. The beverage is a mixture of both red wine and home made whiskey.

Entertainment & Activities
There is something for everyone at the Festival!
Live music ranging from Folk & Fiddling to DJ and Dance! Get involved and participate in several different contests or visit the Voyageur Training Centre; Festival goers will be put to the test in a series of voyageur sports and mind
bending challenges. From tug-o-wars, to
contests, to massive scavenger hunts,
we want participants to feel the true
adventure of the voyageurs’ lifestyle.
Costumed animators will explain the
competitions, act as referee and between
activities they will roam Voyageur Park
seeking out folks who have the guts to play
a real voyageur game!

A nice way to end it all off, is a horse-drawn sleigh ride around Voyageur Park.

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