“Hé Ho, let’s go to festival”, Darlene said. Pronounced “Hay Ho” not “Hee Ho”, is just one of the many things a first time visitor to Festival du Voyageur has to learn when navigating the cultural mores that make St. Boniface’s annual winter festival so unique.
That’s right Anglophones leave your English-speaking ways at the gate of Fort Gibraltar, this is a Francophone festivity. Based loosely on the mid-winter celebrations of the voyageur, this boisterous party celebrates French-Canadian culture and embraces the close bonds of community that only a harsh Canadian winter can bring.
Having won highly coveted tickets to see an invitation only concert by country music recording artist Shane Yellowbird, we were all set for a night out. As we left home the temperature was hovering at a balmy -18c but a strong wind decided to play havoc with our plans ensuring that any hardcore partying would have to be done in the relative comfort of one of the event tents set up around Whittier Park.
Having descended back into a deep freeze over the past couple of weeks seemed appropriate for Festival. Ensuring that all the outdoor events went off without a hitch. It seems counter intuitive actually wanting frigid temperatures but since so many of the outdoor events are dependant on cold weather not a single soul seemed to mind bundling up before heading out to the park.