• Stephanie O’Hanley

Festival Au Galop 2017 announces its official lineup


PHOTO COURTESY SERGE TURBIDE

Saint-Lazare's Au Galop Festival celebrates country music July 8 with musical headliner Québec Issime's Cow-Boys, De Willie à Dolly. Pictured: Foreground: Caroline Riverin (left) with Philippe Berghella (right). Behind them are Marie-Ève Riverin (left) and Karine Riverin (right).

With cowboy hats on their heads or at the ready, Town of Saint-Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Councillor Pamela Tremblay officially launched the third edition of the Saint-Lazare Au Galop Festival, taking place July 8-9 2017, during a press conference Tuesday at the Saint-Lazare Library.

“Hee-haw,” said Grimaudo. “Thank you to everyone who worked very hard, the advisory committee who makes plenty of recommendations. It’s going to be a great year.”

Councillor Tremblay, the festival’s ambassador, read a statement on behalf of Saint-Lazare Au Galop Festival Honourary President P.J. Stock, who was unable to attend.

“I am most honoured to have been chosen to be your representative for this year’s event,” Tremblay read. “It is a great event, encouraging young and old families to get out into our great town and celebrate its history and help build its future. Unfortunately my cowboy hat and I cannot make it today but I am really looking forward to this summer’s event. Also thank you to the festival for supporting the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of Quebec. Let’s help them as they have helped so many others. See all of you in July, P.J. and his cowboy hat.

Tremblay said all shows and activities at the family-focused festival, a “place where horse lovers can get together every year,” will be offered free of charge.

“Two days of programming were put together by a municipal team and our supporting partners,” she said. “Every year we try to add new elements and keep what has widespread support...we want to keep it interesting and diverse for (festival-goers).”

This year’s festival features educational workshops, horse-petting sessions, line dancing, pony rides, pony painting, children’s shows and demonstrations of equestrian sports such as horse ball and carriage driving. Families can enjoy two equestrian shows, Tremblay said. Cavaland’s “10 horses and riders from diverse disciplines will fill you with wonder,” she said, adding that Horse Power Live, is “educational” and “acrobatic.

“You can see we’re a bit more artistic than we’ve been in the past,” Tremblay said. For the second year in a row the Festival will sell Ecocups, environmentally-friendly reusable cups people can purchase and return to festival organizers when they’re finished with them or keep as a souvenir, she said.

The musical highlight? Québec Issime’s Cow-Boys, De Willie à Dolly show, a two-hour musical celebrating country music.

“We’re talking about country music greats, from Willie Nelson to Willie Lamothe, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks,” explained Yanick Lanthier, one of the show’s singers. “The show has more than 100 songs, more than 200 costumes. We’re six singers, including sisters Caroline, Marie-Ève and Karine Riverin, along with me, Dominique Godin and Marc-André Fortin, who you know from Star Académie and we’ll be with you on July 8th.”

Each year the festival encouraging visitors to donate to local and provincial philanthropic causes. For 2017 people are asked to give generously to the Centre Équestre thérapeutique Marie-Laurence, a local charity which offers equine-assisted therapy to children with physical and intellectual disabilities and to the province-wide Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of Quebec, whose services include supporting people touched by ALS, funding research and raising awareness.

“If you know P.J Stock, his brother Dean Stock died last Fall of ALS, known also as Lou Gehrig's disease,” Tremblay said. “(Saint-Lazare) council wanted to support this organization because we know Mr. Stock is involved.”

Mélodie Prince, fund development and community engagement manager with the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of Quebec, said Dean Stock, like his brother, P.J. was also a former hockey player and that Dean, a resident of Saint-Lazare and father of three, died at age 39, a year and a half after being diagnosed with ALS.

Prince said ALS Quebec, which organizes a cycling challenge that travels through the streets of Vaudreuil-Dorion, is thrilled to be back at Au Galop. “We fell in love with the region.”

“I want to say thank you to the Town of Saint-Lazare, to elected officials, to event organizers,” said Lucie Allard, director and instructor at the Centre Équestre thérapeutique Marie-Laurence. Having such help with raising her organization’s profile in the region and with fundraising is important, Allard said, “As a non-profit organization it’s hard to find funds. We try to keep our course rates as low as possible for our clients. They’re children with physical and intellectual disabilities so their parents already have a lot of expenses such as physical therapy.”

Allard said her organization is looking for volunteers.

Isabelle Salvas, executive director of Promutuel Insurance Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the festival’s official sponsor, said the company was “very proud” to support Au Galop for a second year.

To reach Lucie Allard at the Centre Équestre thérapeutique Marie-Laurence, call (450) 764-3156

For more information about this year’s Saint-Lazare Au Galop Festival, visit augalop.ca

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