CAPE VINCENT — Thousands of people came out on Saturday to attend the 51st annual Cape Vincent French Festival, celebrating the village’s French heritage.

The festival commemorates the story of how Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to move to Cape Vincent during the early 1800s, but never made it. He was unable to escape exile in the South Atlantic. Local folks even built a house for him.

During the festival every year, a local man dresses up as Napoleon and leads the parade.

Along with the parade is a fireworks show, live music and over 100 local vendors.

George Elmer, master of ceremonies for the festival, said the event is very important for the village.

“An awful lot of the families who still live in Cape Vincent are descendants of the original French families that immigrated to this area,” Mr. Elmer said.

It also helps local businesses thrive.

Sandra Fralick, owner of Cape Winery, said the festival gives them the opportunity to market themselves and their products.

“It showcases what we have to offer — the waterfront and the businesses,” Mrs. Fralick said.

Mrs. Fralick said she has been a vendor at the festival since the winery opened seven years ago, with great sales each year.

“We always sell well,” Mrs. Fralick said. “The wineries open, we’re at the festival and we sell at the [Cape Vincent] Brewery.”

Bella Gilmartin, owner of Soldier Boy Fudge and Soldier Boy Italian Ice, said the event helps compensate for the north country’s harsh winters.

“It helps the neighborhood because with all the winter months we have, this gives us more time to get out here and have fun,” Ms. Gilmartin said.

The festival continues tomorrow.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Health, nonprofit and education reporter for the Watertown Daily Times.

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