AUGUSTA — Le Club Calumet is readying the field for the biennial Festival de la Bastille, set for Friday and Saturday in Augusta.

For Pat Boucher, it is the third time in a row that he has served as chairman of the fete, where club members share their Franco-American traditions of food, fun and music with friends, family, and the community at large.

This year, however, has come with a few extra challenges.

“We’re doing it with over $20,000 less money because Legislature decided we can’t do cash raffles,” Boucher said. “The club usually raised $20,000 through a super raffle.”

A legislative committee voted earlier this year in favor of a bill that would remove a $1,000 cap on the amount of money nonprofit groups can offer as a cash prize in their fundraising raffles. Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, sponsor of the emergency legislation to reverse the rule change made last year, has said the law change and fundraising cap was tucked into last year’s budget.

The bill removing the cap was enacted in April without Gov. Paul LePage’s signature.

But the fundraising damage had been done before the bill was enacted, so they’ve gotten creative to try to fill the gap.

“We’ve got four major sponsors instead of three, been doing spaghetti suppers and raffles for fuel oil and a fire pit,” he said. “And we had to make adjustments to cut our expenses. We had members just come up and start giving $100 or $50; the members have stepped up to help.”

Major sponsors are Gagne & Son Concrete Blocks, Augusta Fuel Company, Kennebec Savings Bank and Pine State Trading Co.

The event, is held every other year in the Pete Gagne Memorial Field, 65 Old Belgrade Road, and admission is $5 for adults each day; free for children under 18.

The Franco-America festival ran from 1984 to 1997, and was restored through the efforts of Edna Doyon and Joyce Gagne in 2006 after the club started admitting women as members.

“The club does it as a community service,” Boucher said. “It’s nice to break even; that’s what the goal always is.”

The members volunteer their time to plan and work at the festival. Boucher said the festival committee of 25 people has been meeting for the last five to six months, and then everything begins in earnest.

“It takes a couple hundred people to make this work,” Boucher said.

The festival’s entertainment will feature musicians and dancers from Quebec as well as Maine and New Hampshire.

New to the festival are Rene Turgeon of Saint-Narcisse de Beaurivage and accompanying pianist Jasmin Bessette, who will perform both nights.

JimmyJo & the Jumbol’Ayuhs of Phippsburg, will make their festival debut on Friday, and Les Jerrets Noirs of Sainte-Marie de Beauce, Quebec, are new on Saturday.

Returnees are Le Releve Beauceronne avec Louise Mailhot, Le Tournee du Bonheur, and La Famille LeBlanc. The full schedule is available on the club’s Facebook page.

The opening ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday, with fireworks set for 9:15 p.m.

Events resume at 2 p.m. Saturday with children’s activities, and the music begins again at 4 p.m., the start of the popular chicken barbecue. “We ran out last time,” Boucher said.

Fireworks are set for 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

There’s the food tent as well, with such delicacies as boudin (sausage), creton (pork spread), poutine (french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy), salmon pie and plenty of fries.

Microbrews — Baxter, Funky Bow and Sebago — and others have been added to the usual lineup of bar offerings.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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