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Sugar Shack Festival d'Hiver kicking off on Jan. 23

You can almost smell the maple syrup in the air as L’Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) prepares for the 2014 Sugar Shack Festival d'Hiver.

Headlining this year's festival is Les Bûcherons, a French-Canadian entertainment group.

[They] play on the traditional lumberjacks in Quebec that would running around chopping trees to get the maple syrup, then get some spoons or a guitar and sing about it. They're a couple of fun guys, the kids will love them and the adults will too,” Patrick Witwicki, AFFNO executive director, said.

Les Bûcherons will be at Roosevelt Ecole on Friday doing a workshop with students, and will hold another workshop on Jan. 25 at 10:30 a.m. for members of the public prior to performing at the Sugar Shack Brunch.

The festival will launch with the annual Kick-off Social at Cowpuccino's on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., which will include live entertainment and lots of prizes.

Then, the following evening there will be a night of live-Prince Rupert music taking place at the Tom Rooney Playhouse at 8:30 p.m. for Vive la musique.

There will be four live bands, all Prince Rupert-based. There might even be the odd surprise French tune or two, but it's mostly rock and a little bit of country,” Witwicki said.

The main event of the festival is the Sugar Shack Brunch, which will take place on Saturday, Jan. 25 in the Dick St. Louis Auditorium of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, with the doors opening at 11 a.m.

Last year was the best ever, and we're expecting more of the same this year as we continue to grow momentum,” Witwicki said.

The brunch includes delicious traditional French Canadian food like tortières, sugar pies and maple toffee on snow, as well as activities for children and a performance by the Les Bûcherons.

It's a true family fun event,” Witwicki said.

Two grand prize winners will be announced at the brunch, the first being a return trip for four with Via Rail from Prince Rupert to Jasper, as well as a return trip for two with Hawkair.

Tickets for the brunch can be purchased at Cook's Jewellers, tickets for the musical event at the Rom Rooney are available at Teddy's and admission for the kick-off can be purchased at Cowpuccino's. Additionally, tickets for all events are available through the AFFNO office.

Additionally there will be an early-bird special on tickets, which will automatically enter people into a draw to win a return trip for two with vehicle from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii with BC Ferries.

Witwicki said the festival is still in need of volunteers, mainly to help with take down on Saturday. Anyone interested in helping out with various tasks throughout the festival is encouraged to call AFFNO at (250) 627-1313.

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