Along the Rue Saint-Joseph towards Grand Estrades, as in other streets of the route, spectators gathered on both sides of the thoroughfare to admire the elegant monsters, the cars they were shooting at and other moving metaphorical floats.
The Friends of the Maskinongé Equestrian Horse Association alone has shown more than 15 horses. Scores of horses of Canadian, Belgian, Arabians and Percherons, ridden by knights or harnessed to pull carriages, with braided tails and combed manes, showed their full presence.
Western Festival Organizing Committee President Nadia Morrow wanted a beautiful display, and she got it. With about fifty paintings, she set out from the festival stables at one o’clock in the afternoon and toured the great far-western city that Saint-Tate had become, for 10 days in September. When a “village of 4,000 souls” attracts 600,000 visitors in such a short period, its face completely changes.
This is what Rouge FM broadcaster Stefan Pollack said, commentating on the parade at the intersection of Saint-Paul and Notre-Dame, trying to create a simple atmosphere while waiting for the floats and other signs.
Bands, student bands, mascots, cheerleaders, Royal Canadian Marines, male and female dancers followed one another, interspersed in carriages where elected officials and other dignitaries were pulled in twos, fours or sixes.
Among the most surprising metaphorical floats, let’s note that of Urban Adrenaline which had a skateboard and scooter cruising around, with four acrobats at work. They paid for their recklessness with a few falls, but without serious consequences.
Festival violinist Pascale Croft played her instrument throughout the show, adding virtuoso solos to traditional country tunes. The TR Cheer team performed some amazing acrobatics along the way.
The salon carriage, led by the festival’s dance coordinator, Gaylene Burdge, was followed by dozens of dancers whose steps punctuated the entire journey. Even newlyweds from the festival showed up.
At the end of the show, on board the FWST, Nadia Moreau is no longer on Earth. After receiving numerous comments from onlookers, she said: “I’m on cloud nine about the show!” The 2023 parade stands out as one of the largest in recent FWST history. “We put in a lot of effort, adjusted budgets, and had more tables than usual. I received feedback that I had never received on a show,” says Razia.
“By all means,” says the organization’s president, “there were lots and lots of people.” Above all, these guys arrived a day early for the Tim McGraw show on Thursday night. Although official figures will not be available until later, it is a very good weekend, if only qualitatively, Ms. Morrow believes.
Among the new features of the festival, we note that the big bingo game that will take place at the Country Club Desjardins on Monday evening will be hosted by the incomparable Rita Baja. “This year, for each of the files, we gave ourselves a mandate to find ways to reinvent ourselves and wow festival-goers a little bit,” says Nadia Moreau. So the bingo team launched the idea, and the arrival of a famous drag queen at FWST made the organizers proud.
To stay in the game of chance, the lucrative 50/50 raffle, usually reserved for festival-goers who can buy tickets on the street or in the stands, is now in its virtual version. By Sunday afternoon, the online prize pool was growing rapidly, approaching $130,000. The drawing for this grand prize will be held on September 17, during the Finals Rodeo.
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