Since 1994 there have been four Congres Mondial Acadiens.
The first (1994) was in southeast New Brunswick, the second (1999) was in the Lafayette region of Louisiana, the third (2004) was in Nova Scotia, the fourth (2009) was in northeast New Brunswick, and the fifth (2014) is being held in L'Acadie des terres et des forêts (Acadia of lands and forests).
Where is l'Acadie des terres et des forêts, you ask?
Lucky for all of us, there is a relatively simple answer to that question: L'Acadie des terres et des forêts is comprised of two countries, two provinces, one state, and more than 50 municipalities with a combined population of approximately 100,000.
L'Acadie des terres et des forêts straddles the international border between the United States and Canada and actually pretty much re-creates the famed pre-international border area known then as La République du Madawaska or the Madawaska Settlement which originally stretched from Grand Falls, NB, to Lac Témiscouata, QC, and encompassed both sides of the Saint John River which became the international border as a result of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 thereby preventing the Aroostook War and...well, I digress. (And, besides, we probably all need to take a breath after that very long sentence.)
As I said above, the 2014 Congrès Mondial Acadien is expected to draw about 50,000 visitors to the St. John Valley and to the region of L'Acadie des terres et des forêts, based on attendance at the previous Congrès Mondial Acadiens.
But there is a very good possibility that many more visitors will come to Maine during CMA 2014 because, well, for one thing, there are more than 120 family reunions being held in the area...more than 60 in Maine alone!
If the average attendance at each family reunion is traditionally between 300 and 500 family members then that means that, well you can do the math, but it means an awful lot of happy Acadians, Franco-Americans, Cajuns, and Scot-Irish, and others are coming here in a few months.
Yes, you read that right...during CMA 2014 family reunions are not solely for Acadian families as has been the case for the previous CMAs.
One of the first ways that the 2014 CMA is different than the previous CMAs is that all Franco-Americans are invited to attend this historic event.
And, in addition to that, all of our friends and neighbors in the St. John Valley are invited to also hold family reunions-—after all, we live side by side, we work side by side, we intermarry, we all live in L'Acadie des terres et des forêts, and we developed this part of the world together.
Click here to view a list of all the families meeting during CMA 2014.
Well, I might have gone too long about this but it's really exciting and it's happening in Maine and, even more specifically, it's happening in Aroostook County and, for the delicious frosting on the cake, it's happening in the beautiful St. John Valley.
One more thing: You can speak French almost anywhere dans la Vallée Saint-Jean and no one will insult you or look at you funny - c'est merveilleux!
C'est vrais, approximately 80% of St. John Valley residents still speak French.
As a matter of fact, Aroostook County has the highest percentage of French-speakers in the Country, if the United States Census Bureau can be believed (Note: They most probably can).
Venez nous voir pendant le CMA 2014 qu'ont jase un peut dans notre belle langue française. (Come and see us during CMA 2014 so we can chat for a while in our beautiful French language.)
Next time, I'll tell you about the three Pillar Days (August 8, 15, and 24) and the more than 150 community activities that are being planned in L'Acadie des terres et des forêts during this summer's Congrès Mondial Acadien.
To learn more about Congrès Mondial Acadien 2014, visit www.cma2014.com.
Click here for a video overview of CMA 2014.
Want to hear the CMA 2014 theme song as well as see lots of great photos of l'Acadie des terres et des forêts? Click here.
For a good ploye recipe, go to: www.food.com/recipe/ploye-151019
For an even better ploye recipe, go to: www.ployes.com
Okay, c't'assez pour asteur.* (Okay, that's enough for now.)
*My ancestors left France in the early 1600s so, no, I do not speak Parisian French anymore than anglophone Americans speak London English. I have spoken my Maine French with folks from France, Haiti, Madagascar, and others throughout my career. French is French everywhere. However, like every other language, there are differences in pronunciation and so on. This idea that we should all speak Parisian French is nonsense, as far as I'm concerned. Thank you for listening, doctor.