The 12th annual Sugar Shack Festival has been postponed until March, the Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) announced Jan. 8.
The festival which takes place annually at the end of January has been pushed back to March 10 to 12 due to continuing pandemic restrictions. Finalized plans will be issued on Feb. 4.
“There’s nothing allowed indoors right now — and unlike other communities, in Rupert, moving the event outdoors, where likely you’re going to have sideways rain, is just not possible,” Patrick Witwicki, AFFNO executive director, said.
The main event has always been held indoors at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre auditorium and is preceded by several days of French-language music, movies or theatre throughout the community. At the last in-person festival, in January 2020, more than 350 participants and volunteers attended, Witwicki said.
The plan for the 2022 event is to hold the cultural celebration at 50 per cent indoor capacity, or 175 people, with a take-out option for up to 50 people.
“Of course, if the restrictions don’t change, I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Witwicki said.
More information from AFFNO will be made public in mid-February when updated public health orders are known.
The association has been told they have to make the festival happen before March 31, when their fiscal year ends, he said, or they will lose and have to return funding provided.
However, there is good news for those wanting to participate in the festivities in the Northwest, outside of Prince Rupert.
“Our festival in Kitimat, on Feb. 27, will happen no matter what,” Witwicki said.
Hosted outside at the Hirsch Creek Golf & Winter Club, details are still being finalized. Tickets will most likely will depend on the number of people allowed inside the facilities under the COVID 50 per cent rule. Witwicki added that may end up being 90 people, but is subject to change.
Near Smithers, AFFNO’s Franco Fun Ski Day is still a go at Hudson Bay Mountain, on March 5. The outdoor event will feature French-Canadian music and hot beverages.
The only thing that would block the going ahead of these two events is a complete lockdown, Witwicki said, adding he is 99 per cent sure both events will proceed as planned.
Back in Prince Rupert, AFFNO is still hosting their monthly French Coffee Club with the next meeting scheduled for Jan. 18 at Cowpuccino’s Coffee House.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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