Gustavus students have the opportunity to experience an unusual cultural event this Saturday, March 5. The Festival du Voyageur will give students the chance to learn about French fur traders who influenced French culture in western Canada. The event is sponsored by the Cultural Celebrations and Education Committee (CCEC) of Crossroads, and will feature a snow sculpture contest, judged by a professional snow sculptor.
The Festival du Voyageur began in 1969 in Winnipeg’s French Quarter to celebrate the life and culture that the fur traders brought to Canada. In Winnipeg, the event has grown into a ten day province-wide celebration. Gustavus’s CCEC has decided to bring the celebration to campus as a fun and educational experience.
“The idea came to me because in high school my French classes would sometimes go up to Winnipeg for the Festival du Voyageurs, which is [in honor of] French fur traders [who] would come through the area,” Junior Political Science Major and CCEC Member Eric Halvorson said.
“When we were talking about different events that we could put on, I thought that maybe it would be kind of a cool idea, in part because I think that a lot of the time we end up with a lot of Eastern events … instead of thinking about some of the options that we have that are closer to home,” Halvorson said.
“This started out as one of our smaller events, but it’s really grown into something I’m excited about,” Senior Music and French Major and CCEC Co-Chair Brittney Raasch said.
The main feature of the event will be the snow-sculpting contest. The contest is open to anyone, and there will be prizes for the winners. The sculptures will be judged by a guest professional snow sculptor who began his career by entering sculptures in Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur 17 years ago.
“If you want to build a snowman, great. If you want to build some wicked, creative something else, then that’s awesome. I really hope that people have fun with it, have the chance to do something creative with the snow and be a little competitive about it,” Halvorson said.
Besides the snow sculpting, students will be able to warm up indoors with cider and hot chocolate, and food such as beef jerky that voyageurs ate.
There will be educational information about the lives and the culture of the voyageurs, ranging from what they did to their interactions with native Canadians. This display will be in a banquet room adjacent to the Market Place. The sculpting will begin around 11:00 a.m. and will be judged at 4:00 p.m. The indoor activities will continue throughout.