ST. JOHN VALLEY – Families, the heart of the success of the 2014 World Acadian Congress, were the main attraction at a press conference Thursday where officials announced the names of the first 60 families, including 31 families in Maine, that a committee chose to host reunions during the unprecedented international event.
The WAC is a multi-week festival extraordinaire occurring once every five years in various locations around the globe that are rich in Acadian heritage. The event brings Acadians together on a scale unlike any other cultural event.
Organizers have set a goal for 120 family reunions to occur during the WAC.
Organizers anticipate August 2014 will see more than 50,000 visitors to the area dubbed Acadia of the Lands and Forests, which encompasses northern Maine, northwestern New Brunswick, and Temiscouata County in Quebec. Organizers expect the economic impact in the region to exceed $55 million.
The cultural experience in 2014 will be unlike any of the previous four congresses, primarily because of its location. What makes Acadia of the Lands and Forests unique is international cooperation to host the event. Never before have regions hosted a WAC on both sides of an international boundary. Executive director of the organizing committee Leo-Paul Charest said that working with essentially five levels of government in two countries, two provinces, one state, and over fifty communities has been both a challenge and a pleasure.
“[They are] all enthusiastic and want this Congress to be the best ever,” said Charest.
Jason Parent, president of the task force in charge of reunions, told the standing-room only group of reporters, reunion applicants, and event organizers, that it was the family reunions that would bring the masses of people to Acadia of the Lands and Forests for the WAC and make the event a success. Parent then read the list of the first 60 family names chosen for official reunions during the WAC as well as the specific locations within Acadia of the Lands and Forests where the reunions will be held.
Each year in Madawaska, organizers choose a family to host a reunion during the annual Acadian Festival, attracting hundreds, sometimes thousands, of members of that family to the celebration. The WAC takes that concept and multiplies it, by a lot. Now that the WAC organizing committee has announced the first 60 names, organizers will receive a new wave of applications.
After Parent read the names, Michelle Daigle, the regional coordinator for New Brunswick, took the podium.
“I’m very, very happy today, after this announcement,” she said referring to the first 60 names, “to launch the second round of applications.”
Applications to host a family reunion are available on the WAC website, www.cma2014.org. Daigle said she hopes that families who have yet to apply will do so during this next round of applications.
Before the press conference closed, Charest left the crowd with this tidbit, “In the future, I want you to all be standing by. There are going to be other exciting announcements.”
CMA 2014 FAMILY REUNIONS