Franco-Fete in Villes Jumelles (the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul) September 28-30, 2012

UPDATE Sep 12, 2012: Here’s an interesting hour with samples of Le Vent du Nord music and discussion of Franco-Fete on Bonjour Minnesota radio program Sep 11, 2012.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Check in occasionally. Scroll to end of this post.
Francophone, Francophile, French-Canadian ancestry…or know someone who is, or is interested? Consider passing this post along, about a very special event in Minneapolis September 28-30, 2012. That’s only two weeks away. Home website is here.

(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Statue of Pioneers corner of Marshall and Main Street NE, Minneapolis, less than a mile from the conference venue.

reverse side of Pioneer Statue

In 1980, the United States Census asked, for the last time, a question about the ethnic background of Americans.
That year, 7.9% of Minnesotans- 321,087 persons, one of every 12 citizens – declared themselves to be a least partially of French (France and/or French-Canadian) ancestry. Neighboring Wisconsin counted 7.3% Wiconsinites of such ancestry and many other states had very significant numbers of persons in this category. Fr-Can in U.S. 1980001
It is this base, and any of those with an interest in the French language and cultural influence, who will want to set aside the end of September, 2012, for the first-ever Franco-Fete in Minneapolis.
All details, including registration information, are on the web here.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The agenda continues to evolve. Even if you’ve checked before, check back again to get a more complete picture of the entire conference. The music and meal programs especially should be reserved now as we anticipate very significant interest both Friday and Saturday evening.
Franco-Fete will include all the elements of a fine program: family, food, fun…along with academics, history, music…
This will be the first such Fete in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but is not a first ever venture.
Leader Dr. Virgil Benoit, French-Canadian (Franco-American), professor of French at the University of North Dakota and a lifelong part of the Red Lake Falls MN community, has been putting together similar festivals for over 35 years in various places in Minnesota and North Dakota. Dr. Benoit is a professor of diverse talents and great skill, as well as having great passion for the culture and language of his birth.
This years conference will be the largest and most ambitious thus far. Most likely it will be continued in subsequent years.

Virgil Benoit ca 2008 compliments of Anne Dunn

There are two major venues for this years Conference:
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, since 1877 the spiritual home of Minneapolis French-Canadians, will be the venue for Friday night Sep 28. The below photo, taken ca 1968, shows Lourdes as it was before the development of Riverplace around it in the early 1980s.)
DeLaSalle High School, a few short blocks from Lourdes on Nicollet Island in the Mississippi River, and within a short walk of downtown Minneapolis, will be the venue for all of Saturday Sep 29 programs.
On Sunday, September 30, at noon, the French-speaking congregation at St. Boniface Catholic Church in nearby northeast Minneapolis, will host those who wish to experience the Catholic Mass in French. This community, largely immigrants from African countries with French colonial overlays, is a vibrant French-speaking community in the midst of the Twin Cities. While not a formal part of the conference, we urge participants to take part in this ending celebration.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Minneapolis, 1968

Our Lady of Lourdes, August 7, 2012

DeLaSalle High School, Nicollet Island, Minneapolis MN

Fr. Jules Omalanga, pastor St. Boniface Catholic Church, Minneapolis, after Mass March 25, 2012

After a sit-down supper at Our Lady of Lourdes on Friday Sep 28, and tour of the church, noted musician Dan Chouinard and friends will give a concert in the sanctuary of the Church.
On Saturday evening Sep 29 the noted Quebec band Le Vent du Nord will do music workshops and a music program at DeLaSalle. They are internationally noted, and one of Canada’s most popular ensembles. (The web page can also be accessed in French.) UPDATE: More on the Le Vent du Nord event here.. Tickets can also be purchased on-line here. The evening program begins at 5:30 p.m.
The St. Boniface Francophone Choir of Minneapolis, Dan Chouinard and others will also be part of this evening extravaganza.

And Sunday Sep 30 at noon, the community at St. Boniface will host all for Catholic Mass in French.
Again, Franco-Fete is only two weeks away!
Now is the time to enroll.

NOTE: You can find many related commentaries using search word Quebec or French-Canadian. Or enter any of the following numbers in the search box and click enter: (Each has a basis in French-Canadian or Quebec) #15 Grandpa; 28 Weller; 43 Fathers Day; 280; 306; 313; 388; 449; 450; 459; 481; 486; 510; 550; 573; 582; UPDATE Sep 5: 585; 610; Aug. 17, 2012; Sep. 1, 2012;
You are invited to submit your own commentaries, either as a distinct blog post, or as a comment to be added here.

General, local contact:
Dick Bernard
cell 651-334-5744 (leave message, with return phone #).
Specific, including interview requests:
Dr. Virgil Benoit
University of ND at Grand Forks
toll-free: 855-864-2634

Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette about July 12, 1869

Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette married at St. Anthony of Padua in then-St. Anthony, now-Minneapolis MN July 12, 1869. In 1871 the City Directory showed them, and the rest of Collette family, living at what is now the corner of SE 2nd Street and SE 6th Avenue at what is now a block or two from Father Hennepin Park and Minneapolis’ Stone Arch Bridge, and perhaps three blocks from I-35E bridge. More here.
Additional information for those with a continuing interest in matters French-Canadian are invited to visit here. This space will be updated and may well become a continuing presence for those with an interest.

#313 – Dick Bernard: Old Music and Family History

Last night we attended the Minnesota Orchestra, where we’ve had season tickets for many years.
I’m a fan of classical music, but not a particularly well-informed one. Before we left home, Cathy asked “what are we seeing tonight?“, and I said “I don’t know.” The ticket wasn’t helpful: “Symphony and Song” is all it said.
The program turned out to be a delightful potpourri of all-Mozart, including the always outstanding Minnesota Chorale.
I never tire of Mozart-anything. One of the pieces played, Veni Sancte Spiritus, was composed by Mozart when he was twelve years old! (That was about the age when I first became a terminally resistant pianist. It took a while for me to get around to truly appreciating music. I got a D in Music Appreciation in college….)
But, January 16 was a delightful evening, as evenings at “long-hair” music events almost always are for me.
This particular night, for some reason, I fixed on Wolfgang Amade Mozart’s biography: born January 27, 1756 in Salzburg; died December 5, 1791, Vienna. His was a short, intense and extraordinarily productive life. Apparently the music never went out in his head.
1756, his birth year, had a particular attraction this night.
It was about 1757, when Mozart was a year old, that my last French-Canadian ancestor, Francois Collet, came across the big pond from Bretagne (Brittany) to Quebec. (The first known ancestor in North America was Jean Nicolet in 1618.)
Two years after Francois Collet arrived, the English defeated the French at the Plains of Abraham and Quebec became part of the British empire.
Sixteen years later came the American Revolution; and fourteen years after that the French Revolution of 1789 (Les Miserables, and all that).
In 1791, at the ripe old age of 35, Mozart died. In 1805, Francois Collet died in Quebec at the age of about 64, and life went on for families left behind: one with a famous descendant; the second whose story lives on in his surname (now spelled Collette) and many descendants, one of which is me, 7th generation downline.
As one of our families historians, I know that the history of all families, most especially ‘ordinary’ ones, are full of blank spaces, many of those spaces never to be filled. Indeed some of those blank spaces are intentional…”know all, tell some”…we all have our share of secrets….
All we know is that we descended from an almost infinitely long line of predecessors who left us with certain pieces of their abilities or disabilities. We are a sum of many parts.
During intermission I continued to read the program and came across an Essay on Mozart’s Ave verum corpus, by one Dan Chouinard. This piece was part of the program. (You can read the Essay here: Dan Chouinard Essay001)
Chouinard is most definitely a French surname, and in this case Dan Chouinard rang a bell: Dec. 7, 2010, my sister wrote about meeting Dan at an event in the town where she lives, and talk got around to our shared French-Canadian histories. Were we related, she wondered. “Dan Chouinard (Prairie Home Companion, pianist extraordinaire) and Prudence Johnson performed here in Park Rapids on Friday, hosted by the Kitchigami Regional Library with Legacy Amendment funding. Dan introduced himself as French-Canadian ancestry, whose early family immigrated to NE Minneapolis before Minnesota was a state. Of course, I told that I, too, was French Canadian, and told him about your family history project. He wondered if it was archived at the Minnesota Historical Society, and I’m glad to see that I was correct when I told him I was sure it was!
I briefly cruised through the genealogy part of the document we have and couldn’t see any Chouinards. Apparently some people in his family have also done a great deal of work on their genealogy, too.

I don’t know how or if our families intersect in a genealogy sense, but I do know family pioneers were in the present day Twin Cities area “before Minnesota was a state” [1858]. I haven’t heard much about music as a special talent in my French-Canadian ancestry; my interest seems to come from my mother’s German side. But, who knows?
I’m going to see about meeting this Dan Chouinard….