The Irish have the corner on drinking and feasting this weekend, but next weekend it's time for Seattle's first French Festival. Why? Because the influence of French culture year-round is greater than a single political holiday.
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The Eiffel Tower and Champagne are French. The wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, along with the fashions of Dior, are French. And there's much, much more. New Orleans is French. The Carribean is French. The South Pacific is French. Southeast Asia is French. Eastern Canada is French. Much of Africa is French. With all due respect to English and to Chinese, the world's first global language was French; the influence of French remains global to this day: the language is spoken in over 70 countries. Oui, monsieur, on parle français dans soixante-dix pays.
The official celebration of Francophonie is March 20th. Locally, France Education Northwest is holding off until the weekend to celebrate French-speaking cultures, as part of Seattle Center's Festal series.
The new French Festival will be a free, family-friendly event open to the public "with the purpose of promoting and raising awareness of francophone cultures and traditions," according to organizers. Festival-goers will listen to live music, see theater and dance performances, taste international cuisine, play games, and learn from informative seminars and demonstrations One example: the mainstay of classical French education, the dicté, in which students write down a text read aloud by the teacher. Harder than it looks!
In years past, we've seen Bastille Day celebrations at Seattle Center, sponsored by the French American Chamber of Commerce and the French Consulate. France Education Northwest is moving its support away from the mid-July Bastille Day celebration toward a more-inclusive event that brings in French-speaking cultures from around the world. School kids can be rounded up to participate, too, something a mid-summer event can't always count on.
French Fest, Sunday, March 24th. 11-6 at the Seattle Center Armory.