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Mercredi, 8 juillet 2015

Newport celebrates Neighbours Day

by Rachel GARBER

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A giant garage sale was Newport's way of celebrating Neighbours Day on Saturday, June 6. Some 40 persons participated, said organizer Francine Rouleau, president of Loisirs 4 Horizons. She said a steady stream of visitors toured in the Island Brook and Lawrence sites during the day-long event. They followed big blue signs to visit the various vendors of antiques, desirable objects and plants. The day was initially overcast, but soon the sun triumphed.

"It went very well," said Gilles Prévost in front of the municipal hall in Island Brook. "In the morning, it was very cold, but a lot of people came and we sold a lot of plants. Everybody was in a good mood."

Anne Couturier of the Auberge La Charmille in Island Brook helped organize the event. "It went well, she said. We sold a lot of things, and about 25 people toured the inside of the Auberge."

Neighbours Day, or Fête des voisins, originated in Paris in 2000. This year about 1 400 neighbourhoods and 20 million people participated around the world, said the European website, The Quebec website,, lists about 260 groups who organized a Neighbours Day festival this year. They extended from Baie-Johan-Beetz in the Lower North Shore to several municipalities in the Eastern Townships.

Many of these events took place in small villages or in city housing units or street blocks. The rural municipality of Newport is different. It extends over a territory measuring 10 miles by 10 miles. So it was a real challenge to solicit participation from all corners of the municipality, and to direct visitors to all the participating sites.

In fact, no participants were registered in Randboro or Saint-Mathias-de-Bonneterre, and the several vendors on the North River Road and 10th range in the Maple Leaf sector received very few visitors. "It was disappointing," said Martha Lévesque. "We had a maximum of 10 people."

"It's too bad there weren't more participants in the area of Randboro," said Rouleau. "That would have created more attraction." She is thinking about how to organize the event differently next year. Maybe group six or seven participants together at each point of sale. Maybe focus on the Route 212 trajectory for one event and on Route 210 another time, if enough participants are interested.

But overall, the hardworking volunteers who organized the event can rest easy. "At least in part, I think we attained the objective of Neighbours Day, to bring neighbours together," Rouleau said. "Different families came together for the occasion. People talked with each other. People spontaneously like garage sales and plant sales. As we go forward, we'll reach this objective more and more. This is only the second year we have done it."

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