• Stephanie O’Hanley

Vaudreuil-Dorion’s Festival de cirque: free fun for everyone


Sylvain Dubois of Quebec circus troupe Les Parfaits Inconnus offers a preview of the troupe's zany acrobatics at a press conference for the Festival de cirque Vaudreuil-Dorion May 2, 2017.

Compared to last year, the 13th edition of the Festival de Cirque Vaudreuil-Dorion is clearly scaled down. It’s one day shorter, its well-known big top (the chapiteau Eugène Chaplin) is no longer part of the equation and the word “International” was removed from the festival’s name.

But at a press conference Tuesday, May 2, at the Centre Multisports, festival organizer Festivités de Vaudreuil-Dorion announced that for this year’s Festival de cirque, taking place June 23 to 25, all activities will be free of charge.

“The only request city council made was to ensure the festival is free to the greatest extent possible,” Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon told an audience that included the festival’s board of directors, sponsors and participants.


Along with the traditional fireworks and the 7th annual carnival-like, community-created défilé Mozaïk parade with 1,000 citizens and artists showcasing a Contes et légendes (Stories and Legends) theme on June 23, headliners include Granby-born singer-songwriter Alex Nevsky, who performs June 23.

“We’ve all seen him perform on the Gala de l'ADISQ and on La Voix Junior,” said Michel Vallée, head of Vaudreuil-Dorion’s arts and cultural division and the festival’s artistic director. Quebec rock icon Robert Charlebois performs on June 24.

“He’s part of the DNA of Quebecers,” Vallée said. Quebec acrobat-musician circus troupe Les Parfaits Inconnus closes the festival on June 25.

“Since they’ve performed shows just about everywhere in the world, Les Parfaits Inconnus are a little less unknown,” he joked. “We’re really happy to have them.”

Street scene

Without the chapiteau, this year’s festival will feature street performers, with Rue Jeannotte serving as the backdrop. “All the circus artists specialize in street performing,” he explained. “It’s the concept we opted for this year to ensure the circus artists are seen by as many visitors as possible.

“It’s a circus festival where you’ll make all sorts of discoveries about the circus, he said. “You’ll discover very talented Quebec artists for free in the street and creating an incredible public space. “

As in the past, young circus performers from Festi-cirque des Trois-Lacs will demonstrate their talents, as will young performers from the Club de gymnastique Gymini.

Vallée said the festival will offer the public plenty of chances to participate in outdoor activities, for instance there will be a slackline and other ways for people to participate more directly.

Sonia Drolet named as President

While Mayor Pilon served as president of the board of directors of Festivités de Vaudreuil-Dorion for last year’s festival, this year he asked local businesswoman Sonia Drolet to take his place.

“I’m very, very happy Sonia Drolet accepted my invitation,” Pilon said. “She’s involved with the festival, with the community, in the business world. And she brings added value because she brings along her family. That means Sonia’s children, Sonia’s husband, Sonia’s parents… when Sonia is with us we automatically have a group of 10 people, and that’s considerable.”

“The circus is a big event that’s been successful (for years) and I wondered if I could fill the big shoes of my friend (festival founder) Yannick Gosselin,” she said.

“It’s when Mr. Pilon spoke of the team I’d be working with on this project that I felt reassured,” said Drolet, who invited members of the board and others working on the festival to join her for a photo. “I don’t want the focus to be on me but rather on them. Without this team the circus wouldn’t exist today, they all worked hard and with passion to make this event a success.”

Drolet, who said she’s been a circus sponsor and volunteer, appealed to local businesses to do the same. “Every year I was always there physically for three days with my husband, four children and my employees and family members, blowing up balloons, giving out candy and popsicles and that was my way to give back to citizens in my region and to thank them for their support.”

Local business sponsorship

Echoing Drolet, Vincent Bastien of CUBiX, a local company which takes care of the festival’s production side, invited local businesses to get involved by presenting an event. If they’re an artistic business they can perform in the festival. For businesses lacking funds but looking to increase visibility “there’s a way to associate your services with an activity on site.” As well, for $500-$5,000 businesses can become a Friend of the Festival, Bastien said.

“The formula for becoming a partner without investing money is to offer volunteer hours,” he said. “Any business that provides between 50 and 200 hours of volunteer hours can gain visibility.”

As the festival approaches, organizers are posting video capsules on the festival website, with hosts Julie and Mara acting as guides, doing interviews and giving viewers an idea of what to expect.

For more information or to reach organizers, visit www.festivaldecirque.com or email info@festivaldecirque.com

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