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 $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, 2014MENU: 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, 2014MENU: 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, 2014MENU: 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.

TV5MONDE

 

Upcoming Performances

  • Apr
    26

    Comedy Series: R-rated Hypnotist Frank Santos Jr., Comedian Rob Steen

    Heritage Hall

    Apr 26 - Apr 26

    8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Santos at the Franco Center

    Comedian Rob Steen returns to the Franco Center and this time he's bringing R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. with him.

    Comedian Rob Steen (right) returns to the Franco Center and this time he’s bringing R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. with him.

    You will be amazed when you, your friends or complete strangers across the room become stars of the show as comic hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. makes them believe that they are singers, dancers and much, much more.  This is a performance where the audience becomes the show.  Frank’s performance has limitless variations and can please every appetite.  This is a hilarious, energetic and unique show that you will never forget – unless, course, Frank commands you while you’re under hypnosis to never remember!

    ... More
  • May
    10

    Midcoast Symphony Orchestra's 2013-14 Season Concert Finale

    Performance Hall

    May 10 - May 10

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Midcoast Symphony Orchestra at the Franco CenterMidcoast Symphony OrchestraFor over a decade, the Franco Center has been proud to serve as the second home of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra (MSO), and audiences in the Lewiston-Auburn area have been growing as word spreads of the MSO’s masterful performances in the acoustically magnificent Performance Hall. The MSO under the direction of Australian Maestro Rohan Smith returns one last time for this season for its season finale on Saturday, May 10, 2014. $20 per ticket, under 18 admitted free.

    ... More
  • May
    16

    Comedy Series: Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, Tammy Pooler

    Heritage Hall

    May 16 - May 16

    8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Franco Center Comedy Series Finale

    It's the last comedy night of the season, but we promise that if you cry, they'll be tears of laughter. Come and laugh with Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, and Portland's Tammy Pooler on Friday, May 16th.

    It’s the last comedy night of the season, but we promise that if you cry, they’ll be tears of laughter. Come and laugh with Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, and Portland’s Tammy Pooler on Friday, May 16th.

    The last of this season’s 5-show run of comedy nights, this is one finale that won’t be sad in any way. In fact, it promises to be downright hilarious with the return of Maine comedian Tammy Pooler along with Ira Proctor and Will Noonan. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door (18+ only).

    ... More
  • May
    17

    Maine Music Society presents "Blowin' in the Wind" (Saturday night show)

    Performance Hall

    May 17 - May 17

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Maine Music Society at the Franco Center

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60's and 70's on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60′s and 70′s on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    This spring the Androscoggin Chorale will sing many of your favorites from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The Chorale will perform arrangements of songs composed by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel, to name just a few. Songs in the program include “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Both Sides Now” and so many, many others that are sure to delight audiences young and not so young alike.

    ... More
  • May
    18

    Maine Music Society presents "Blowin' in the Wind" (Sunday show)

    Performance Hall

    May 18 - May 18

    3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

    Maine Music Society at the Franco Center

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60's and 70's on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60′s and 70′s on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    This spring the Androscoggin Chorale will sing many of your favorites from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The Chorale will perform arrangements of songs composed by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel, to name just a few. Songs in the program include “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Both Sides Now” and so many, many others that are sure to delight audiences young and not so young alike.

    ... More