Fifth Annual Sugar Shack Festival kicking off on Jan. 29

The fifth annual Sugar Shack Festival is so close, you can almost smell maple toffee in the air.

The fifth annual Sugar Shack Festival is so close, you can almost smell maple toffee in the air.

Patrick Witwicki, executive director of Association des francophones et francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO), is finishing up the plans for this year’s event, taking place from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31.

As per usual, the festival will kick-off with the Sugar Shack Social taking place at Cowpuccino’s on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. The event will include treats and a live acoustic set by Prince Rupert musician Blair Marr-Verge, with Ben Mechalchuk accompanying him on a few songs.

Then on Friday, Vancouver-based band Pastiche will perform at the Lester Centre of the Arts, with opening act Ben Cornwall from Prince Rupert.

Consisting of Boris Favre, lead vocalist and pianist, Allan Dionne on accordion and Cameron Wilson playing the fiddle, Pastiche combines original tunes with traditional folk songs and music from Brittany, France and Quebec.

“It’s a fusion of traditional with modern chords and modern rhythms,” said Favre.

“The subjects of our songs are very traditional, rural topics: kitchen parties and things of that nature.”

The musicians performed in Prince Rupert previously in the Celtic-funk band Mad Pudding and are happy to be returning to the North Coast.

“It’s always fun to get up north and get to know other parts of the province and country,” Favre said.

Pastiche will also be providing entertainment at the Sugar Shack Brunch, the festival’s main attraction, on Saturday, Jan. 31.

The event will include delicious traditional food and maple toffee on snow.

“It’s all about the food,” said Witwicki.

AFFNO is still in need of volunteers to help out with the festival, particularly for clean up following the brunch. Anyone willing to lend a hand is encouraged to call Witwicki at 250-627-1313 or email

Tickets for the kick-off social can be purchased at Cowpuccino’s and the AFFNO office, with tickets for Pastiche’s show being available at the Lester Centre of the Arts and Cook’s Jewellers. Tickets for the brunch can be purchased at Cook’s Jewellers and the AFFNO office.