Date Set and Chairs Named for 45th International Festival

By Lura Jackson

 

After a turbulent International Festival last year that saw the near-cancellation of the international parade as a result of a break in communication, this year’s event is being approached with gusto by both Calais and St. Stephen. Representatives of both towns met with the public earlier in the year to establish a clear commitment to the festival. Since then, chairs from both municipalities have been selected and a date of the festivities has been confirmed.

This year’s festival will run between August 8th and August 12th, with the customary handshake ceremony kicking off the event on Wednesday. Organizers are hoping that more people from the community will attend the handshake ceremony this year to help celebrate the reaffirmation of international friendship. Additionally, new events are being considered that will encourage wider participation, including musical attractions. The parade will take place on Saturday the 11th while the grand finale – the ever-popular fireworks show – will be held on Sunday evening. 

Among the changes that have been confirmed to this year’s festival is the street fair, which will no longer be held between the North Street turn and Jo’s Diner on Main Street. Instead, the street fair – which hosted 60 vendors last year – will be stretched between Jo’s Diner and near D & G Auto. The extended area will allow visitors to the fair to browse more freely while storefronts on Main Street will have better access for customers.

Unlike what has happened on occasion in previous years, this year’s festival should not directly conflict with the scheduling of St. Stephen’s Chocolate Festival. As a result, the committee is hopeful that more volunteers will be available and attendance will increase. 

The chairs of the committee have been named as Roxanne Redding of Calais and Alex Reid of St. Stephen. Redding shares that she is “excited, nervous, and just happy” to be a part of the event has had experience planning and implementing various events in the past, though nothing quite to this magnitude. “It’s pretty daunting,” Redding said, “but I believe that both communities really love the International Festival and we will succeed in having another great year!”

“Last year was a challenging year with the International Festival in both Calais and St Stephen,” said St. Stephen Mayor Alan MacEachern. “We both almost lost something that has been tradition for 44 years and a large part of our heritage. But, by almost losing the festival, it has brought new life to our yearly festival and people on both sides of the border came together and saved it.” MacEachern praised the spirit of collaboration and the efforts of all of the volunteers involved in the past and present and emphasized the uniqueness of the event. “Not every community has the opportunity to share a unique festival of this type with its neighbor, and we get to celebrate in two countries.”

“I think we have strong representation from both sides and a closer connection to the municipal governments,” said Calais City Manager Jim Porter. “I feel there is more optimism and enthusiasm than we have seen in some time.”  

No date has been set yet for the next meeting, but volunteers are requested from both sides of the border to help in planning it at this stage. Contact Jim Porter at manager@calaismaine.org or Alex Reid at areid@town.ststephen.nb.ca for more information to or sign up as a volunteer.