Le Pays de la Sagouine, a Bouctouche, N.B., attraction based on the beloved play La Sagouine, written by Antonine Maillet in 1971, turns 20 this summer.
The story of La Sagouine, a cleaning lady, is told in Acadian French monologues by comedians on the site. The character has often been called the voice of the voiceless and of the Acadian people.
The grounds feature a long curved walkway leading to L'Ile-aux-puces, a fictional island village inspired by the play. The village comes alive each summer with theatre, music, comedy, and dance, bringing Acadian culture to life.
Marie-France Doucet, the attraction’s manager, said that many people from the Bouctouche area buy a pass and visit the site several times a week.
Visitors return because of the scenic surroundings, and because every season Maillet herself refreshes the story, she says.
"What we have also is new text every year, it's like the story that never ends so people are looking every year to come back and see what the comedians have to say this year," she said.
Doucet also said the attraction has grown monumentally since its opening. In 1992, one performer was hired to entertain the crowds, nine hours a day, all week.
"There was only one full-time comedian, I think she started at nine o’clock in the morning till eight o’clock in the evening and now we have seven full-time comedians on-site."
The park is one of the largest employers of Acadian performers in the world and employs more than 150 people in all.
More than 55,000 people visit the site every summer during its 10-week operating period. Many are season-pass holders. Doucet said she expects that number to grow.
Doris Whalen, a season-pass holder from the United States, summers in Bouctouche. She said she comes to Le Pays de La Sagouine at least twice a week.
"It's beautiful: everything about it, the people, the comedy, the music, the actors and the people who work here. I love music, French, English it doesn't matter," she said.