Festival gives visitors taste of voyageur life on Louis Riel Day
Published Monday, February 16, 2015 7:20PM CST Last Updated Monday, February 16, 2015 7:21PM CST
Festival visitors got a taste of life as a voyageur on Louis Riel Day.
"We just love Festival,” said Greg Bartel, who came with his wife and his daughter. “It's a great time to come out with the family and enjoy a beautiful holiday."
Visitors toured Fort Gibraltar, where they saw re-enactments of how life was lived in the fur-trade era.
Inside Fort Gibraltar’s gates, James Young, a Festival du Voyageur interpreter, cooked a curry dish in a pot over an open fire - food that would’ve been enjoyed occasionally by voyageurs.
"They certainly would've had access to curry powder but it would've been more of a treat,” Young said.
Inside what would've been a storage building in the fur-trade era, interpreters whipped up bannock and taught Festival-goers about pemmican, a staple of the voyageur diet.
"Pemmican is made up of ground bison meat and boiled bison fat which is a high-calorie, nutritious food that the voyageurs would be eating,” said interpreter Danica Audette.
Calories you needed inside the Sugar Shack to keep your toes tapping to some traditional music played by The Bart House Band.
Outside the many music-filled festival tents at Voyageur Park, kids opted to slide down the toboggan run. It was quite a rush for 4-year-old Will Nickel.
"I was covering my eyes because the snow was getting in my eyes,” Nickel said.
Festival fun even reached The Forks where visitors gathered for the Rende-vouz On Ice, a place to skate, warm up by the fire and enjoy a drink on the frozen Red River in a frozen glass.
Many people opted for the Caribou. At Festival you can get modern a day take on the popular drink once enjoyed by voyageurs.
"The voyageurs used to mix caribou blood with their red wine,” said bartender Christine Guy. “Now it's just fortified wine with whiskey so there's no blood in it anymore."
For Janelle Lagasse, the day has deeper meaning.
It's a chance for her to reflect on her Métis roots. She wore a red toque and a woven sash passed down from her grandfather.
"It's definitely a celebration of our culture and our city,” said Lagasse.
A celebration she enjoys sharing with others.