by Catherine Dunwoody

Poutine enthusiasts rejoice! From April 1- 3, our favourite Francophone festival returns with musical artists, cultural activities, and of course fabulous food. It’s all happening at Mackin Park in Maillardville, Coquitlam in celebration of the 33rd annual Festival du Bois.

The festival is the largest of its kind in BC, bringing a little bit of Québécois culture to the west coast. The official kick-off on the first evening begins with the Friday Night Contra Dance featuring live music from The Sybaritic String Band with Maureen Collier. What exactly is Contra Dance? It’s a social dance done in lines of couples usually done accompanied by live traditional music. There’s a dance caller who teaches easy “figures” on the spot, like in square dancing, and prompts you during the dance. A great way to work up your appetite we’d say!

Speaking of which, we are already salivating in anticipation of the festival’s cuisine traditionnelle. Try some hearty, traditional tourtière, the famed Quebecois double-crusted meat pie with a flaky, buttery crust. Savour the gravy and cheese curds in a decadent bowl of poutine, or enjoy the flavour of a traditional Montreal smoked meat sandwich. You’ll likely find us hovering around the cheesy-melty deliciousness at La Poutinerie.  And then for dessert over at Cabane à Sucre André Beauregard Sugar Shack for sinfully good maple sugar pie and freshly made maple taffy  on an icy bed of snow.

Grab tickets to the pancake and maple syrup breakfast on Sunday, April 3, 10am. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids – but do note that this doesn’t include admission to the festival site itself.

Along with a fantastic lineup of artists throughout the weekend, The Grand Chapiteau (Big Tent) is also where you’ll find the booths from a selection of talented artisans and info kiosks where you can learn all about local francophone and community organizations.

To fully embrace the spirit of the festival be sure to wear your plaid to honour the lumberjack heritage of the community and celebrate its French-Canadian pioneering history.  Add a traditional sash to your ensemble, and remember, wearing plaid is warm … and cool!

If all the mingling and square dancing have you building back up your appetite, there are plenty of noteworthy restaurants in the area as well.  

At Woody’s Pub, you can enjoy one of Coquitlam’s favourite spots for craft beer and live entertainment, while also ordering another round of poutine (it’s already a cheat day, you may as well).

If it’s a little extra spice you’re after, then an order of sockeye salmon aburi from Fat Tuna Sushi should be your next course. Flame seared and topped with fresh jalapeno and wasabi, it’s a delicious way to keep warm if the temperature starts to drop.

If you’re not ready to stop the French theme, however, then you ought to swing by Olivier’s La Boulangerie. One of our absolute favourite spots for fresh pastries in Coquitlam, Oliver’s never fails to delight. Croissants, croquants, baguette sandwiches- it’s basically like sending yourself a delicious postcard from Paris.

For more information about Francophone family fun and feasting, visit www.festivaldubois.ca.

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