Each month we present La Rencontre (French for “the gathering”) as a way for our extended Franco-American family in the area to reconnect with each other and with our neighbors. Meals and stories are shared, friends are reunited, and memories are made.
We offer a fully catered luncheon, followed by a performance. Both the menu and the entertainment vary each month. The charge to attend is $7 (rising to $8 beginning May 2014) and the public is invited; however, reservations are required at least four days in advance by calling the Franco Center Office at 783-1585 durign regular box office hours from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (no weekend messages, please), so that we can order and prepare an appropriate amount of food.
Traditionally in Franco culture, big celebratory meals of this sort would include live music provided by members of the family and their neighbors. Many families like Lewiston’s Jalbert family (above photo) made sure their kids each learned to play an instrument in order to entertain at such gatherings — and so, accordingly, we invite local musicians to provide live music for our guests.
To learn more about upcoming performances and menus, check the Event Calendar. Here’s a brief look at what’s coming up in future months:
NEW DATE: Friday, March 14, 2014 – MENU: Our annual March tradition continues with lunch supplied by DaVinci’s Eatery, one of Lewiston’s finest restaurants. Enjoy DaVinci’s signature cheese lasagna with a garlic bread knot (and butter), a light salad and a dessert to be announced soon. ENTERTAINMENT: Every March we bring you something really special and adorable almost beyond words as the elementary school students from L’École Francaise du Maine in Freeport – all 80 of them – performing this year with a French Circus for our guests. This is an annual favorite!
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – MENU: Ziti with meatballs, side of Italian bread and mixed vegatables (hot), and yellow sheet cake for dessert. ENTERTAINMENT: Don Levesque, Roger Damboise and Charlie Stewart — known as “Les Chanteurs Acadiens” (Acadian Singers) are coming all the way from Aroostook County to entertain our patrons and tell us a little about the upcoming 2014 Congrès Mondial Acadien (Acadian World Congress) taking place later this summer at locations in Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.
Thursday, May 8, 2014 – MENU: Fresh lobster roll on a hamburger bun with pickles and potato chips, with a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. ENTERTAINMENT: Nel Meservier and Friends.
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - MENU: To be announced soon. ENTERTAINMENT: French-language jazz classics by New Hampshire’s Linda Pouliot accompanied by a pianist performing on our Steinway Series D concert grand piano.
Doors open at 10:00 a.m. (no earlier), lunch is served 11:30 am. Entertainment gets underway at around 12:30 and continues until 1:15 to 1:30 pm. La Rencontre is not restricted to French-speakers or even those of Franco descent. All are welcome.
At the same time, part of our enjoyment of this gathering is knowing that most of those in attendance come specifically to converse in French, a practice that was officially forbidden at many workplaces in the last century and that was, under a 1919 Maine law, prohibited from being spoken in schools except specifically in French classes. And so if English is overheard being spoken, its speaker may be asked to make a small donation of a quarter; all in good fun, of course, while also serving as a reminder of those days — which are thankfully over — when speaking French openly might earn detention for a student or a reprimand from a supervisor.
This is our family table, and we invite you to join us to share your own stories. La Rencontre is funded in part by generous support from TV5MONDE, whose monthly printed viewing guides are available at each event.