Francophone and francophile residents will be returning to the Folk on the Rocks grounds this Saturday to mark the largest celebration of the year for French culture, language and history.

Association Franco-culturelle de Yellowknife (L’AFCY) will be hosting St. Jean Baptiste Day at the beer garden with about 12 hours of food, beverages and entertainment for all ages.

Organizers said they are looking forward to returning to the site at Long Lake after a Covid-19 restricted event held at the Yellowknife Ski Club in 2021.

“Last year we did have it at the ski club which, although not a bad situation, was a much tougher gig because we had to have a special fence put up and order a bunch of other stuff to comply with safety restrictions,” said AFCY executive director Maxime Joly. “I think it is going to be awesome this weekend because we are hoping to have the whole community as part of a celebration for everybody. For sure we are looking forward to this.”

In 2021, St. Jean Baptiste Day was one of the few live events held during the late spring and summer festival season.

Batiste Foisy, programming officer with AFCY and one of the main organizers of this weekend’s festivities, has been involved with the festival for the 18 years he has been in Yellowknife.

He said he’s looking forward to seeing St. Jean Baptiste Day return to the Folk on the Rocks site at Long Lake as it seems to be the optimal location for the event.

“As we have done in past few years – though we missed one year during the Covid pandemic (2020) – we came back last year and now we have even less restrictions this year, “ Foisy said. “We are really looking forward to a great event for families during the day and then a concert in the evening.”

Beginning at 2 p.m., Foisy said festivities will feature family and children-friendly activities, including a bouncy castle, face-painting and various games to play.

Among the games will be giant versions of chess, Jenga and Yahtzee.

Painting artist Diane Boudreau, who specializes in outdoor wildlife works, will be providing a hands-on painting workshop on mosquitos in the afternoon.

NWT Circus will also be on site during the afternoon, which Foisy said has become a regular featured hit during the day’s celebration in recent years.

“We are really happy to have them again this year and we are encouraging people to have with them some of their own shakers to help drum up the action for their performance,” he said. “If you have a piece of container and can throw some rice in there, it can help be a part of the entertainment.”

In the evening, Yves Lécuyer will be playing familiar francophone songs and there will be a performance by the music group The Dandy Lions.

“The Dandy Lions are a fairly new act but played the last Snowking Festival and are more of a folk string band with some keys and electronic type of sound,” Foisy said. “Usually they sing in English but they have also agreed to prepare a few numbers in French.”

The night will conclude with DJ Charlebois, otherwise known as Sami Blanco, who will again provide a DJ set with French Canadian classics and an opportunity for people to dance up to 1:30 a.m.

“I think that St. Jean Baptiste Day will be the place to be on Saturday,” Foisy said, “and it is free.”

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