New Brunswick

World Acadian Congress kicks off this weekend

The two-week event, held every five years, was created to unite Acadians across North America.

It's been 25 years since the first reunion and the event is still as relevant, says organizer

Acadians travel from across North America for the event, being held in southeast New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island this year. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

The sixth World Acadian Congress kicks off this weekend, with an official opening in Abram-Village, P.E.I., on Saturday and several events in New Brunswick.

The two-week gathering, held every five years and created to unite Acadians across North America, is expected to draw 100,000 people this year.

Family reunions are a big part of it. So far 36 families are confirmed, like the LeBlancs in Shediac, the Daigles in Richibucto and the Breaus in Cocagne. 

According to executive director Vaughne Madden, who has been working on this year's event for the past three years, legend says it was started when a group of Acadians who had gone out west talked around a glass of wine about getting together.

Large family reunions are popular during the World Acadian Congress, which happens every five years. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

"They had this dream of getting Acadians from around the world to come together and celebrate," Madden said. "And it was supposed to be a one time event."

The first congress was held in Moncton in 1994.

"It was such a huge success, the group said, 'OK, we'll see you in five years in Louisiana, and then in Nova Scotia.' And then begun the history of the world Acadian congresses. Because people really felt that need to get together."

Executive director Vaughne Madden has been working on the congress for the past three years. (CBC)

Twenty-five years down the road, Madden said, the congress still has a place.

"For some people it is about the music and the celebration, but for others it's really about the development of the community."

She said the events create a legacy, such as education tools for schools.

The official opening ceremony will take place in Wellington, P.E.I., at 6 p.m. followed by performances by Barachois, the East Pointers, Arthur Comeau, La Famille Savoy, Lennie Gallant, Vishtèn, Les Hay Babies, Acadidanse, Suroît, Cajun Country Revival and Ryan Doucette. 

There is a big celebration in Dieppe on Aug. 15, coinciding with National Acadian Day celebrations.

Artists include Radio Radio, Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire, Joseph Edgar, Les Hay Babies, Zachary Richard, Lisa LeBlanc and Edith Butler.

Many decorate their lawns for the World Acadian Congress every five years. The two-week event kicks off this weekend. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Two hundred artists are expected over the two weeks. 

Other activities include visual arts, discussions and picnics.

The closing ceremony is Aug. 24 in Shediac.