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Jour De Fete draws a big crowd

The 52nd Annual Jour De Fete brought visitors from across the country to Ste. Genevieve in order to take in the town’s rich history and enjoy an abundance of craft and food vendors.

Jour De Fete Committee member Joan Noll said while they may not be the biggest arts and craft event, they are big for the area.

“We’re not as big as St. Charles but we are pretty big for the area,” Noll said. “This is our 52nd year so it’s been going on for a while.”

Noll said vendors come in from all over and provide a variety of products for visitors.

“I was just talking to a vendor from Florida,” Noll said. “They come from Florida, Texas, Alabama, all over. A lot of them come here and then go to St. Charles next weekend.” 

While the last few years have brought rain, this year’s event saw clear skies and drew large crowds.

“It’s the weather, it’s hot but it’s not that hot and no rain,” Noll said.

The board may not be able to control the weather when planning the event, but according to Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler they do a great job preparing for everything else.

“The Jour de Fete Committee is a good group of faithful people that work for not a lot of recognition,” Hassler said. “They do a great job and are dedicated. They’ve been doing it for a long time.

“Some of these committee members have been on for over 25 years … the Inman’s, their daughter Jamie leads that committee and she does a great job. She is a great organizer and has great help but not a lot of it. Like anything else you could always use more help.”

Noll said committee members recruit their families and everyone jumps in and helps.

“There’s like six of us but that’s okay, we are a good team,” Noll said. “Of course, I recruit my husband and everyone’s family helps.”

Hassler said he loves Ste. Genevieve because it is a great community full of people who care.

“Jour de Fete has been fantastic,” Hassler said. “It has been a great year. The weather is beautiful, a tad bit hot but that’s alright … it’s August. It’s always hot in August so we are enjoying it. It looks like everybody coming by is enjoying it and I have had plenty of ice cream and kettle corn. It’s been fantastic.”

New this year was the addition of a delivery service and doughnut breakfast provided by the Ste. Genevieve High School cheerleaders.

“They approached us and wanted to do something so we said these are two things we’ve been wanting to do but don’t have the manpower to do it,” Noll said. “They are great and could be seen over at their post doing cheers.”

According to Noll, shoppers were given the option of having the cheerleaders help with their big bulky purchases for a donation, and they would even hold the donations at the visitors center and then assist them in getting the items to their car.

The event included more than shopping.

Visitors had the chance to meet a few winged characters from the World Bird Sanctuary.

Liberty, a 26-year-old bald eagle, is no stranger to the area as a favorite of the late Walter ‘Stormy’ Crawford, founder of the World Bird Sanctuary and Ste. Genevieve native. He would bring Liberty to most local events.

Jennifer Jones from the World Bird Sanctuary explained that Liberty was injured after being hit by a car and could not survive in the wild. She said she has been with him for 15 years and has grown very attached.

“One reason that Stormy started the sanctuary was for rehabilitation,” Jones said. “When he started it there was no place to take sick and injured birds of prey. His main focus was rehabbing to release.”

Jones said most bald eagles only live 20 to 25 years, but since Liberty is in captivity she believes she can double his life expectancy.

The Ste. Genevieve Militia provided living history throughout the weekend. They could be seen marching the streets and firing off salutes in full period attire.

“It’s fun,” said Ste. Genevieve Militia member Don Harris. “You’ve get to live history. How they felt, what they did, how they did it. We wear what they wore.”

Harris said it is a chance learn the old ways and to learn history by living it.

If visitors wanted to experience even more history, they could go over to the Shaw House and see examples of hand spun yarn, spices, iron work and more.

The Bolduc House, Felix Valle House, Guibourd and Shaw House, all built in the 1700’s, were open for tours.

If visitors were not looking for the historical aspect, there was plenty of food, music and family fun available to make everyone happy.

Noll said any money made by the event will be put back into the community in some way.

The Milice de Ste. Genevieve marches through Jour de Fete showing visitors an example of living history.

The Milice de Ste. Genevieve marches through Jour de Fete showing visitors an example of living history.

Joey Hoog, 4, reels in the catch of the day at a vendor booth at Jour de Fete Saturday in Ste. Genevieve.

Joey Hoog, 4, reels in the catch of the day at a vendor booth at Jour de Fete Saturday in Ste. Genevieve.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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