La Rencontre: Monthly Franco Luncheon
The Jalbert Orchestra, 1920s. The children of Arthur and Célina Simard Jalbert, from l to r:  Fern, Germaine, Conrad, Judy, Gertrude, and Gabriel. The catalyst for the family was the mother, Célina Jalbert,  who was determined that the children have as many opportunities as possible to further their education. Louis Jalbert, known as Maine’s “Mr. Democrat,” though not in this picture,played drums in the group with his brothers and sisters. (photo courtesy of the Franco-American Collection, University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College).

The Jalbert Orchestra, 1920s. The children of Arthur and Célina Simard Jalbert, L-to-R: Fern, Germaine, Conrad, Judy, Gertrude, and Gabriel. Louis Jalbert, who would later become known as Maine’s “Mr. Democrat” and represent Lewiston for 38 years in the Maine Legislature, played drums in the group with his brothers and sisters but is not pictured here. (photo courtesy of the Franco-American Collection, University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College).

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 $8 and the public is invited. However, reservations are required at least four days in advance by calling the Franco Center Office at 783-1585 during 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.

The deadline for all calls will be 4 p.m.on the Tuesday immediately prior to the luncheon on Thursday.

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:

Thursday, October 9 2014

Menu  Beef stroganoff, mash potatoes, peas and carrots and dessert.

Entertainment :  “The Train to Maine:  Stories and Songs, Past, Present & Future”    Featuring Tony Donovan, Richard Grandmasion and Center Director, Mitch Thomas.
Congressman Mike Michaud (Honorary Director, Franco Center Board) will also speak about highlights from his service on the U.S. House Transportation Committee.

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.



Upcoming Performances

  • Oct

    15/20 Fright Night

    Heritage Hall

    Oct 31 - Oct 31

    7:00 pm - 11:00 pm

    Join us for a Halloween party the likes of which you’ve never seen before!  This event is for young people ages 15-20. All are welcome to come in costume to enjoy music, dancing, ghoulish lighting and more.15_20 logo (2)

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  • Nov

    Battle of the Blends

    Performance Hall

    Nov 1 - Nov 1

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    The Maine Music Society has assembled a spectacular group of a cappella singers to start our season. We’ve invited some perennial favorites and some lively newcomers. You’ll enjoy a great variety of styles and sounds with Good-Time Sound, The Colbyettes, The Merimanders, None of the Above, The Nor’easters Barbershop Chorus, and Vocal Solution. This concert is usually sold out, so get your tickets early!

    Buy tickets at Maine Music Society

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  • Nov


    Performance Hall

    Nov 2 - Nov 2

    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Fiddle-icious is a large diverse group of fiddlers and other musicians of all ages who return for their annual fall concert on Sunday, Nov. 3rd.

    Fiddle-icious is a large diverse group of fiddlers and other musicians of all ages who return for their annual fall concert.

    Fiddle-icious is an orchestra of diverse, enthusiastic musicians playing fiddles, guitars, flutes, banjos, tin whistles, accordions, cellos, violas, mandolins, harps, stand-up bass and other instruments. The members come from around the state including Biddeford, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth,  Coopers Mills, Gorham, South Bremen, Lewiston, Portland, and Raymond.

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  • Nov

    Annual Franco Center Gala

    Performance Hall

    Nov 8 - Nov 8

    6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    The Franco Center will again host one of Lewiston/Auburn’s foremost social and cultural events, The Franco Center Gala and Benefit Concert.

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  • Nov

    Late Night Catechism

    Performance Hall

    Nov 15 - Nov 15

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Late Night with GlassesCall it Loretta Young meets Carol Burnett. This ispart catechism class, part stand-up routine. It’s an interactive comedy, one of the longest running shows in Chicago and U.S. theater history.

    The New York Times calls it, “hilarious, well-written and inspired.” Jeffrey Lyons from TV’s Sneak Previews calls Late Nite Catechism “something to savor and enjoy….one of the most intimate, rewarding shows in town.”

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