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French Heritage Festival this weekend

For the 21st year, residents of Ste. Genevieve will be celebrating the town’s rich historic French roots with this weekend’s French Heritage Festival throughout the Ste. Genevieve Historic District.

More than 300 years of French history throughout North America will be celebrated in the town which holds one of the highest concentrations of authentic French colonial architecture on the continent.

The festival will be held Saturday in downtown Ste. Genevieve, with a variety of events and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

French Heritage Festival Planning Committee Chairperson Cathy Grusling said those who are participating in the Ste. Genevieve Hospital’s Ride to Survive will receive a special invitation the morning of the event in addition to special coupons for the day.

The festival’s opening ceremony will held at 11 a.m. at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church featuring Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler, the event’s master of ceremonies and members of the volunteer militia.

Following the opening ceremony, a parade will proceed toward Main Street Park where activities will await festival-goers, including food, vendors and music.

In Lions Park, the Lions Club will be selling a wide variety of food all day, while the French Heritage Festival Committee will be selling beer, wine and new Ste. Genevieve T-shirts.

The Felix Valle State Historic Site will also be hosting a demonstration of French folk dancing by the Dance Discovery Dance Troupe. Also at the site will be historic reenactors, dulcimer music, basket-making and crepes for sale.

Grusling said there will be festivities stretching from 3rd Street to Main Street, with many of the town’s downtown shops offering discounts and some restaurants offering authentic French cuisine.

She said with the progress being made toward the national park’s establishment in Ste. Genevieve, there is a sense of excitement for the many expected tourists who will be drawn to the town for events like the festival and for the town’s historic architecture.

Presently, she said the town draws visitors from all across the nation and even from Canada and France.

At 7 p.m. Saturday evening, a special concert will be given by Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Esprit Creole. Before the performance, Stoughmatt will give a talk about the old French that was spoken in Ste. Genevieve during the town’s colonial period.

Grusling stressed that no matter how warm it may be Saturday, there is plenty of shade under tents and trees throughout town and in the parks to keep festival-goers cool.

“This festival really celebrates the French origins of Ste. Genevieve and the surrounding area,” Grusling said. “We often have couples or families with French ancestors who come to participate from neighboring counties. There are special tours, colonial skills demonstrations, children’s activities, music and lots of great food and drink all day. Come and be French for the day!”

The French Heritage Festival is sponsored by the Foundation for the Preservation of Ste. Genevieve.

Families and bystanders join in the procession during the Grand Promenade that opens the French Heritage Festival. This year's festival will be held Saturday.

Families and bystanders join in the procession during the Grand Promenade that opens the French Heritage Festival. This year’s festival will be held Saturday.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at

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