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, September 11 2014

Menu  Sauteed chicken with seasonal vegetables, rice, and cake.

Entertainment  Bob Mathieu and Jean Julien.

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

  • Sep

    Debbie Morin and Cheyenne

    Heritage Hall

    Sep 19 - Sep 19

    8:00 pm - 11:00 pm


    Cheyenne 2014 LRDebbie Morin has been entertaining audiences in and around New England and Canada for 30 years…throughout her career with a well known Top 40 band Good & Plenty and later in a popular country/rock band Cheyenne she has had the privilege to play with some of the most talented local musicians in the state. The list is long and impressive.

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  • Sep

    Ed Gabrielsen in Concert

    Performance Hall

    Sep 27 - Sep 27

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Ed Gabrielsen's postponed concert from Jan. 11th (due to a nasty winter storm) has been re-scheduled for Sept. 27th.

    Ed Gabrielsen’s postponed concert from Jan. 11th (due to a nasty winter storm) has been re-scheduled for Sept. 27th.

    Vocalist Ed Gabrielsen is trained in both classical vocal technique and contemplative musicianship. Originally set to perform here at the Franco Center back on January 11th, a winter storm that brought icy roads and dense forced that concert to be postponed. The new concert date has been set for Sept. 27. Tickets are 15 dollars, and people with tickets from the January show can hold on to them or trade them for the new date in person at the Franco Center box office ONLY (not by phone or online).

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  • Oct

    Open House

    Oct 2 - Oct 2

    5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    Open House for Website LRThe public is invited to the Center’s 2014 Open House to freely ‘look around’ and discover all that the Center has to offer….concerts, dance, theater, club events and much, much more.  In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the Center’s new executive director, Mitch Thomas.

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  • Oct

    Michael Lewin

    Performance Hall

    Oct 10 - Oct 11

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Michael Lewin at piano LROne of America’s most gifted and charismatic concert pianists and teachers, Steinway Artist Michael Lewin, presents our second program of the 2014-2015 Piano Series season.  A member of the piano faculty at The Boston Conservatory, he has performed to great acclaim around the globe.

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  • 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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