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 and the public is invited; however, reservations are required at least four days in advance by calling the Franco Center Office at 783-1585, 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 an instrument in order to entertain at such gatherings — and so, accordingly, we invite local musicians to provide live music for our guests. And each spring the young students of L’École Francaise du Maine, a French-immersion elementary school in nearby Freeport, produce a wonderful play (in French, of course) that they spend months preparing for and that is adorable almost beyond words.
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, December 12, 2013 - MENU: Our traditional Christmas dinner of baked ham, sweet potatoes, peas & carrots, dinner rolls & butter, along with delicious, flaky puff pastries for dessert. ENTERTAINMENT: A 5-piece Franco-American choir, led by Roger Bouffard, will reprise last year’s performance of Christmas carols in French, which was a big hit with our audience last December.
Thursday, January 9, 2014 - MENU: As we do right around this time every year, we’ll be serving delicious chicken pot pie from KFC (prepared at KFC that same morning) plus a biscuit and a side of coleslaw, along with a whoopie pie for dessert. ENTERTAINMENT: Baritone Larry Gowell of Auburn, who quickly became a popular favorite at the Franco Center after making his debut here in October 2012, will sing songs from the Great American Songbook (and click here to see the video story about Larry’s brief but memorable career as a pitcher for the New York Yankees on “Bill Green’s Maine”).
Thursday, February 13, 2014 - MENU: Shepherd’s pie (layers of ground meat and corn covered by a layer of mashed potatoes) with pickled beets, dinner roll & butter, with a homemade cookie for dessert. ENTERTAINMENT: To be announced soon.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m., 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.