A colorful parade in Saint-Title

Around the other streets along the route, towards the rue Saint-Joseph Grandes étres, spectators gather on both sides of the public thoroughfare to admire the racy beasts, the cars they shoot and other animated floats.

Equestrian association Friends Maskinong Horses alone fielded more than 15 horses. Mounted by riders or used to pull carriages, dozens of Canadian-bred horses, Belgians, Arabians and Percherons, with braided tails and matted manes, made their presence felt.

Nadia Morey, head of the Western Festival’s organizing committee, wanted a beautiful parade and she got it. With about fifty paintings, it left the festival stables at 1 p.m. and toured the great metropolis of the Far West, which became Saint-Tite, for 10 days in September. When the “village of 4000 souls” attracts 600,000 visitors in such a short time, its face completely changes.

This was recalled by Stéphane Beaulac, host of Rouge FM, who commented on the parade at the intersection of Saint-Paul and Notre-Dame streets, trying to create a small atmosphere while waiting for the floats and other paintings.

Marching bands, cadet corps, ensigns, cheerleaders, the Royal Canadian Navy, dancers and line dancers followed each other, interspersed with two-, four- or six-horse carriages carrying elected officials and other dignitaries.

Let’s remember the urban adrenaline that made skateboards and scooters wander, with four acrobats among the most surprising metaphorical floats. They served their time with a few falls, but no serious consequences.

The urban adrenaline float was powered by strong emotions.

Festival fiddler Pascal Croft swayed his instrument throughout the parade, adding virtuosic solos to traditional folk music. The TR cheer team did some breathtaking stunts along the way.

Pascal Croft, the festival's violinist.

Animated by Kailyn Portage, the festival’s dance coordinator, the salon float featured dozens of dancers stopping the entire journey with their steps. Even the festival’s newlyweds have made an appearance.

The new husbands of the festival, Julie Francoeur and Sébastien Piché.

At the end of the parade, on the FWST metaphorical float, Nadia Morey was no longer on the ground. “I’m on cloud nine about the parade!” He said after receiving several comments from the audience. The 2023 parade is one of the largest in recent FWST history. “It took a lot of effort, we adjusted the budgets, we had more schedules than usual. I got comments like I never had on the parade route,” he says with satisfaction.

“To the eye”, assesses the head of the organization, “there were many, many, many”. After all, these people arrived a day early to attend the Tim McGraw show on Thursday evening. Although official figures will not be available until later, it was a good opening weekend, in terms of quality alone, Ms Morey believes.

Among the novelties of the festival, note that Monday evening’s Big Bingo at the Country Club Desjardins will be hosted by the incomparable Rita Baga. “This year, we gave each file a mandate to find ways to reinvent ourselves and give our festival-goers a little surprise,” says Nadia Morey. So the Bingo team started the idea, and the arrival of a famous drag queen at FWST makes the organizers proud.

Staying in the realm of games of chance, tickets can be obtained on the street or in the stands for lucrative half-and-half draws, usually reserved for festival-goers. By Sunday afternoon, the online prize pool had grown rapidly, approaching $130,000. The drawing for this jackpot will take place on September 17th during the Rodeo Finals.

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