The 40th Festival franco-ontarien Banque Nationale ended last night before a record crowd gathered for a spectacular musical rendez-vous, drawn by the terrific weather and an outstanding program lineup. Festival President Josée Vaillancourt was all smiles as she delivered the closing comments on the Air Canada Big Stage, just minutes before Zachary Richard made his entrance: “We won our bet that we could bring in as many youth as builders to celebrate our 40 years and to highlight every single aspect of today’s Francophone Ontario. We thank our partners, volunteers and artists from Quebec, Manitoba, the US, Africa and Franco-Ontario for having understood our mission and for taking part in this superb celebration of the language that unites us”.
The Festival kicked off on Wednesday, June 10, with a packed school matinée attended by close to 2000 youngsters from Ottawa’s French school boards. On Thursday evening, after the Culture en Fête presentations by CECCE, Rond Point, D-Track and Mélissa Ouimet, the Porn Flakes and their guests put their special stamp on Les 400 coups du FRANCO, while Les Locos Locass hoisted the green and white flag high and proud, and as Daniel Boucher closed his number with a resounding message to keep the language alive: “Continuez de parler français”!
Friday’s rain could not dampen the passion of KAIN and their fans, who headed towards the site under a phenomenal rainbow for a performance filled with breathtaking special effects and light shows. Just before that, 240 youth from the CEPEO had braved the pelting rain to deliver a moving concert around the theme of connecting, entitled Tissons les liens, followed by the FRANCO’s showstopper, Swing, and Le Paysagiste, who had the crowd dancing and waving their umbrellas with his poetic lyrics and a repertoire guaranteed to warm the heart.
The last day at the FRANCO unfolded under bright sun and ideal temperatures, starting with a veritable festival of strollers and happy faces for the family matinee. The afternoon provided opportunities for some musical discoveries during the Grand Pique-Nique de la Francophonie, which provided a captivated audience for a lineup of Ontario Francophone cultures. At 4 p.m. Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi proved just how useless chairs could be once the party took off under the big top.
The evening continued with a magical moment on the Air Canada Big Stage with the Orchestre symphonique De La Salle and shows by Trishia Foster, Geneviève Toupin, and R et Yao who adapted their texts and repertoires for the occasion. The site was already almost full at 7 p.m. for Daniel Lavoie and his three musicians, while by 9 p.m. a record crowd had gathered, including the Festival builders who joined in to applaud and dance with the pillar of the Francophone community, Zachary Richard.
The Programming Director for the Festival franco-ontarien, Laurent Vandeputte, closed with this anecdote summarizing his impressions of the weekend. “We are definitely proud of the progress the Festival has made over the years. This afternoon, the Tambourineurs du Burundi gave me an unforgettable moment when they invited me to join them after their show. They wanted to thank me for never having treated them differently, or drawing attention to the ethnic differences that sometimes divide their community. You know, over the past few years they have even modified their costumes to reflect the green and white. Ontario’s Francophonie dates back 400 years, but if it is to continue, it must be nourished and celebrated. And that’s what Franco-Ontarian pride is all about. »