An evening at the Folk on the Rocks beer garden in 2019. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Yellowknife’s Francophone community will celebrate St Jean Baptiste Day with a series of free concerts at the Folk on the Rocks beer garden on Saturday.
The event celebrating Francophone culture starts at 3pm and music kicks off at 4pm, with artists Roger Dallaire, the Andrea Bettger Band, and DJ Charlebois playing everything from square dancing music to a DJ set to close out the night.
A bouncy castle and face painting are also on the schedule for the kids – and for the adults, a cash bar will be running. Minors are allowed on site until 10:30pm, at which time the bouncy castle will shut down. My African Cuisine will also be selling food at the event.
“I can easily say it’s the largest annual Francophone gathering in the North,” said Batiste Foisy, who handles programming for the Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife, the organization hosting the event.
“Like last year, it was somewhat rainy, but still we had about 300 people throughout the day that showed up.”
He’s hoping for an even better turnout this year, and encouraged the whole community to come and check it out.
“Speaking French is not an obligation on-site,” he joked. “We don’t you won’t test your French ability on-site – everybody’s welcome.”
“You just bring your family. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And if you enjoy square dancing, there’s going to be square dancing,” he said, pandering to what he called the “subculture of square dancers in town.
“If every year you can’t wait for the Royal Ball [at the Snowcastle] for that square dance. Well, there’s another square dance happening.”
Dallaire, the Albertan artist coming up for the event, will be calling the dances. He’ll also be performing earlier in the night at 4pm, demonstrating a jigging man instrument.
“Roger is a very interesting fellow,” wrote Foisy in an earlier email. “A proud Franco-Albertan, he’s been involved with the preservation and promotion of the Albertan francophone culture for nearly two decades. He’s an accomplished accordionist and storyteller, and also champions the revival of old-fashioned musical instruments such as ‘bonhomme jigueur,’ a type of doll-shaped percussion instrument that doubles as a dancing puppet.”
St Jean Baptiste Day has been celebrated in Yellowknife since at least the 1970s, said Fosiy, who has seen pictures of informal celebrations at the sand pits from that era.