AUGUSTA — Founded in 1922 by two dozen men, Le Club Calumet, whose members now number 938, is about to celebrate its 90th anniversary with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a Las Vegas-style gala weekend.

Today, women make up about a third of the members. They joined when the by-laws of the originally male-only club were changed in 2005. “It kind of revitalized the club,” said Donald White Sr., club president.

Another change back in 1988 permitted men whose surnames were not French, but whose mothers were French, to join.

“That was a boost then,” said White. In fact, he is the first to hold the president’s office who has not had a French surname.

Some things don’t change, however. “All members have to be of Franco-American descent,” White said.

Those two membership changes helped attract more younger members, White said. “It’s been a good mix.”

Active members attend weekly club meetings. There, French is a necessity, because one meeting a month is conducted in French.

The Franco-American club whose name translates as “peace pipe” was aimed at the “propagation of the French language and intellectual development, by means of music, literature, education and anything else that the club shall judge beneficial to the interest of Franco-Americans.”

The club works for the community too, and has donated land for ball fields and supported local college students through its educational foundation.

Last year the club received the community service award from the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Every two years it hosts Le Festival de la Bastille at the Pete Gagne Memorial Fields off Old Belgrade Road, near the club home on West River Road.

Music and fun are central to the anniversary celebration.

Patrick Boucher, one of almost two dozen past presidents of the club, said the planners considered a number of kinds of celebrations before settling on a Friday, Sept. 28 casino night open to the public, and then a Las Vegas-style show featuring “The Sands Trio,” a Rat Pack tribute group, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, which is almost sold out.

“We wanted something very, very special for the event,” said Paul Pare, chairman of the past presidents’ committee, which planned the event. “We’re flying one person into town from Vegas, one from Detroit, one from New York and one (the conductor) from Ottawa.”

The performers will conjure the music and personalities of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

“We’re going to remember our forefathers and go back in music,” Pare said. “Everybody will be touched by this we hope.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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