Franco-American Folks Artist Adelard Cote’s carvings shown at Biddeford’s La Fête du Printemps | Arts & Culture

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Franco-American Folks Artist Adelard Cote’s carvings shown at Biddeford’s La Fête du Printemps

BIDDEFORD—On Friday, March 25 at 5:30pm, the Heart of Biddeford will kick off the third annual La Fête du Printemps, a weekend celebrating Franco-American culture, with a showing of several carvings by local folk artist Adelard Coté (1889-1974). In addition, hand-made childrens books written in French by First Level French students at Biddeford High School will also be on display.

Coté, born into a peasant farm family in Ste-Sophie, a small town near Quebec, became an accomplished blacksmith. He left Canada as a young man to seek his fortune and landed in Biddeford in the early 1900s, where he was hired by Pepperell Manufacturing Company as a blacksmith.

Coté’s desire for adventure unsatisfied, he left Biddeford for a brief stint working in a light bulb factory in New York City, and to wander the province of Manitoba and Saskatchewan before returning to Biddeford in 1920 to open his own blacksmith shop. He married Eva Hébert in 1923 and set up house on Hill Street.

Around 1940, Coté began whittling to pass time. Eva was instrumental in challenging Adelard to try his hand at more and more complicated pieces. He eventually began carving horses, cows, and then wagons, with metal details forged in his own shop. Most of his sculptures reflect his memories of Québécois ruarl life at the turn of the century. Coté was very productive making his folk art between 1940 and 1960. There are several pieces, along with a slide show of other work and photos, on display at the Heart of Biddeford office Friday night only, courtesy of Norman Beaupré, Rita Scott, and the Saco Museum.

La Fête du Printemps—best translated as a “Celebration of Spring”—is a free weekend-long celebration featuring Franco-American folk art, French Canadian and Acadian music, and Franco-American theater performed in both English and French.

La Fête du Printemps is made possible by generous grants from La Société St. Jean Baptiste de Bienfaisance, Le Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques, and the Heart of Biddeford as a member of the CC=ED Consortium, an intiative funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Engine, a Biddeford-based community arts organization, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance are media sponsors.

For more information on La Fête du Printemps, visit http://www.lafeteduprintemps.org/