History will not only be brought to life, it will be lively. The Red River Jig will be danced as it was 150 years ago beneath the ancient cottonwood trees. Folks will clap to fiddle music as the Metis once did in the campground beside the Red Lake River. There will be singing, trading and storytelling at the Chautauqua and French Festival at Old Crossing and Treaty Park near Huot, Minn. The festival begins Friday, Aug. 24, at 9 p.m. with a bonfire, singing and storytelling.
The Asham Stompers will be one of the highlights of the weekendâ€™s entertainment. The jig and square dance group from Manitoba will perform Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25 and 26. The dancers combine the Red River Jig with square dancing, adding some new steps to the traditional dance of the Canadian Metis. The jig originated from dances of the First Nations, French, English and Scots. The high energy group, formed in 2002, has traveled from Mexico to China and has given more than 100 performances, including six at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Stompers have performed at Folklorama and Festival Du Voyageur in Winnipeg as well as at many curling events, including the World Curling Championships in Grand Forks, N.D.
Dancers ranging in age from six to 60 are Cathy Genaille and Arnold Asham, Charmaine Raynor and Grant Thompson, Shayna Genaille and Patrick McKay, Felicia Morrisseau and Glen Murdock, Skyler Campbell and Dave Raynor, Jacob and Michael Harris and Brandon Couchene. The Stompers perform to music by fiddler Shawn Mousseau of Manitoba.
Back 40, a Franco-Manitoban and country band from St. Laurent, will match the tempo of the Stompers. The band will play Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the park and at a dance on Saturday night at The Spot in Red Lake Falls.
Throughout the weekend, there will be crafts and arts displays and make-and-take crafts. Silent auctions will be held Saturday and Sunday. Fresh baked bread will be available from one only of the only earth ovens in the region. Food, including Tourtiere (meat pie), crepes, ice cream and refreshments will be available.
Admission is free and the public is welcome to all events in the park.
The festival, presented by AFRAN (Association of the French of the North), emphasizes the French heritage of the Red River Valley. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the festival, cake will be served and there will be a drawing for an AFRAN membership Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Old Crossing and Treaty Park is on Red Lake Co. Road 3 and seven miles northeast of Gentilly on County Road 11 or 10 miles southwest of Red Lake Falls.
For more information on the Chautauqua and French Festival at Huot, MN., contact Jerry Amiot at 218-289-8889, Anne Healy at 218-253-2833 or Virgil Benoit at 218-253-2270.
(Submitted by Twylla Altepeter)