COVID puts freeze on Carnaval de St. Isidore

The Carnaval de St. Isidore mascot Grand Duck was popular with people of all ages at the 2020 event. Annabelle Lavoie, 3, centre, of St. Isidore, gets a close-up look in the arms of her mother Valerie Levesque.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The ever-popular annual Carnaval de St. Isidore held on the Family Day weekend in February has been put on ice over restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plans for the 39th annual Carnaval on Feb. 12-14 were called off last November by the Society of the Culture Community Centre.

“We decided to cancel altogether rather than hold a modified version because of the uncertainty regarding public gathering restrictions,” says Rachelle Bergeron, a member of the organizing committee.

“Being unable to be certain of measures in place in February and unable to make plans, such as bookings, ordering, etc. it became clear that we had to cancel the event.”

Large crowds gather at the St. Isidore Cultural Centre over three days to celebrate the francophone culture, activities and entertainment.

“Since our event usually hosts over 1,200 people over the weekend, we feel it would be impossibly difficult to limit that number and also to ensure physical distancing control because of our limited space capacity,” Bergeron says.

“Even various possibilities of offering a ‘limited’ edition are very complicated, given the nature of all the restrictions.”

She says the decision was expected.

“It has been very disappointing for sure,” Bergeron says.

“We have seen it coming all year.”

The event has become a highlight for franco- phone families in the region.

“This gathering and volunteer organization is a very important aspect of our life as a community,” Bergeron says.

“The opportunity to build local capacity and promote francophone culture will be sorely missed.”

Organizers plan to keep the Carnaval alive in 2021 in other ways.

“We will be doing a few small gestures to underline the fact that we are on course to a full event in Carnaval 2022,” Bergeron says.

Regular entertainer Roger Dallaire will make a video of storytelling and music that will be offered to schools and to the community.

“Also, if conditions allow, we will organize a community snow sculpting competition where people would be invited to make snow sculptures at their residence,” Bergeron says.

“Although there is no event this year we still have devised a theme related to the pandemic and will include some social media interactions.

More information will soon be released on planned events.

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