Magic brings Victoria French Fest to life

15th annual event brings together region’s francophones and francophiles

Musicians Chris Frye

As the Capital Region prepares to celebrate its French roots and prominent francophone subculture with the 15th annual Victoria French Fest, there’s already a heady dose of magic in the air.

Esquimalt musician Chris Frye and the Analog Ghosts plan to add to the festival’s theme of magic when they open for renowned magician Alain Choquette on Friday (March 9), at 7:30 p.m. at the McPherson Theatre.

Frye, along with vocalist, keyboardist and saxophonist Brooke Maxwell, Joey Smith on upright bass and jazz drummer Kelby McNair, will perform tunes in French and English.

Their blend will be reflective of the bilingual festival, which draws some of the Capital Region’s estimated 7,000 francophones, whose first language is French, and some of the 30,000 francophiles, who speak French as a second language.

More than 4,000 children are enrolled in French immersion school programs in the region.

“And the numbers keep going up, so I think there is an interest in our community to speak both official languages,” said Marie-Pier Courbron, cultural services manager at the Victoria Francophone Society, which is organizing the festival.

“The festival really invites people of all cultures and backgrounds to celebrate together, and you just feel it all the way,” Frye said. “It’s very inclusive, which is what Victoria is all about.”

The festival, running tomorrow through Sunday, includes free events at Centennial Square on Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

There will be French food, an arts fair, live entertainment, balloon and face-painting artists, bouncy castles and military displays.

A French-language guided tour of Victoria, which costs $5, leaves from the square on Saturday at 1 p.m.

A free circus arts workshop for children age three to eight will happen inside the lobby of the McPherson Theatre on Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m.

Then at 4 p.m. Cirque du Soleil co-founder and performer, clown Ben Labarouette, will take the McPherson stage with his Dream Circus act. Tickets are required.

For event details, please visit www.francocentre.com or call 250-388-7350.

emccracken@vicnews.com