Expected reunion

A long-awaited reunion

DAY

Cowboy hats on almost every head, often elaborate clothing, families, costumed teenagers, tiny cowboys and gorgeous old-timers; the first full day of festivities (rodeos, shows, activities) of the Festival western de St-Tite delighted thousands of country fans. After two years of waiting, everyone was ready to celebrate.  

RVs, cars and tents cover the grounds of the private homes of many residents of the town of Saint-Tite. For many festival-goers, these places will become their temporary home for the ten days of this long-awaited and extremely popular festival. For others, it's the promise of a beautiful sunny day doing a lot of good for the soul – all music, activities, meetings and rodeos – after an obligatory stop caused by the pandemic. < /p>

You have to see this city of 3,672 inhabitants come alive in this way as the streets closed to automobile traffic find themselves crowded with cowboys and cowgirls; some real ones and others happily costumed. We must also witness the gleam in the eyes of the organizers, volunteers, artists and all those who participate in this event which they have sorely missed for the past two years. 

We must live, once in a lifetime, the unique atmosphere that takes over the streets of this western village sending us back, in a few minutes walk in cowboy boots, to another era and another time. 

Hat shops are taken over by festival-goers.

We must stop to quench our thirst in the saloon by pushing open the swinging doors like in a spaghetti western, salute real cowgirls and cowboys mounted on their impressive beast, be part of the more than enthusiastic crowd of 7,500 people attending a rodeo in the famous Grand Estrades Coors Original. Where the best cowboys in Canada perform more than impressive feats. 

It's also good, finally, to dive back into the little pleasures of before the pandemic by mingling gently – and always cautiously – with the crowd without fear or fear.

“We are here for the atmosphere, the unique “vibe”, explains Maïka Miville-Laforest, 21 years old. The young woman from Baie-Comeau studying in Quebec is making her third appearance at the Festival Western de St-Tite. She came to Saint-Tite with her friend Mikaelle Girard, whom she recently met at a rodeo in Charlevoix. The two young women developed a friendship through their common passion for horses and rodeos. “We've been waiting for this, this festival, we've had our tickets for a while,” said the 18-year-old from Lévis, who is currently training her own foal in barrel racing. I'm here to see my brother's friends who are in the rodeo, to cheer them on. »

Dating

There is in the experience of the Festival western de St-Tite a whole component of encounters that give a deep and human meaning to this beautiful suite of celebrations, rodeo disciplines and musical shows. 

Meeting cowboys and cowgirls first of all, who are happy to share their passion with anyone who is interested and wants to understand them better.

Meeting the inhabitants through the eyes of which reads with great pride. 

Singer Maxime Landry meets his admirers at his record kiosk on Notre-Dame Street.

The meeting of artists who take their music to heart, the height of their tributes, the accuracy of their interpretations and the connection with their audience. You have to see Maxime Landry, for example, take pictures, discuss and sell the records of his show Jolene and the Gambler himself at his little kiosk on rue Notre-Dame!

The meeting of country culture also comes in almost as many palettes as there are colors of cowboy hats. A musical, clothing and gourmet culture, but also imbued with values ​​based on mutual aid, knowledge sharing, family heritage, passion for animals, love of music and dance and the relief of being able to celebrate , again, all together. 

The St-Tite Western Festival continues until Sunday, September 18. Information, times and tickets: https://www.festivalwestern.com/

Cowgirl from mother to daughter

Jessica Gauthier, 28, is a specialist in barrel racing, a sport she has practiced since she was very young.

At 28 years old, Jessica Gauthier has already accumulated 21 years of experience in rodeo competition. And she does not intend to stop there! This passion is a family story for the one who is part of a third generation of cowboys and cowgirls. 

From her grandfather Jean-Claude to her mother, Manon Daudelin, with whom she races (but doesn't feel competitive, she says), through her father and husband, horse racing has kept the hearts of her family racing from generation to generation. 

< p>“When we got out of the arena, I had tears in my eyes, explains the cowgirl who, when met by Le Journal on Saturday, had risen to the top of the first qualifiers for the Canada Cup with his horse Richie, a magnificent Quarter Horse. He [my horse] loves the atmosphere of St-Tite and has a very playful personality. I think he likes this event even more than me, if that's possible (laughs). ”

“We both love the atmosphere and the spectacular aspect of the festival. And Richie performs even better when he hears the screams of the crowd, it motivates him so much. » 

Know how to listen

For the young woman who lives in Valcartier, the St-Tite Festival is the event in which riders wish to participate in the year. Even more after two years of pandemic shutdown. ” We dream of qualifying for it “, says the one who admits to having a big penchant for… speed!

” I like to go fast, continues the horse trainer who can reach up to 50 km/h on his beast. I like the fact of sitting on such a big beast, training it and making it understand things and that it anticipates what I want once in action. »

For those who wish to underline mutual aid in the rodeo community (men, women, young people, older people), the first passion is that felt for the animal. ” I like to take care of them and listen to them, because yes the horses speak to us and you have to know how to listen to them “, she breathes.