It was worth the invitation and trip to the 30th anniversary of the well-known and well attended three-day St. Just Cartoon Festival with two models of cows gracing the entrance to the centre. The Festival is usually held over two weekends, and has a cow as its logo. There were cartoonists from around the world whose cartoons were on display as well, at the newly built Cartoon Centre. In years past it has always been held under a giant marquee. There were cartoonists from France, Croatia, US, South Korea, China, Spain, Scotland, England, France, Ireland, Poland, Israel, to mention a few. All the way from Cameroon, Leontine Babeni the Executive director of Irondel, organisers of FESCARHY Cartoon Festivals in Yaounde Accompanying her was Lucien who came to borrow ideas for a similar project in Yaounde at Camp Artistique.
Language was usually a barrier but the language of cartoons, everyone understood. The inauguration ceremony of the centre took place at the same time of the opening of the 30th Salon Cartoon Festival. The official opening of the centre was packed with cartoonists, guests, Government officials and visitors. This beautiful streamlined structure made of concrete, wood and glass has on its roof three multi-coloured cows are grazing. The three day festivla is always filled with activities, presentations and entertainment. The works of legendary French cartoonists such as Dubout, Cabu and Plantu took centre stage. This is the brain child of Gérard Vandenbroucke who when I was at another Cartoon Festival in Rouen the historic capital of Normandy (also in France) years back, approached and invited me to attend the St-Just Festival. I have since been a few times and the 30th anniversary was not to be missed going by comments of my other Cartoonist colleagues as well. Through the years I have met great cartoonists from around the world at the Festival and we have become friends. One of such is English cartoonist and caricaturist, Luke Warm.
St Just-Le-Martel is a small village of over 2,343 villagers in west-central France.For cartoonists coming from Paris, it was a three hour trip from Paris-Austerlitz train station to Limoges-Bénédictins train station where a coach transported us to St-Just. As the coach got nearer the exhibition centre, there was a thunderous clapping of hands as if to give a seal of approval for the newly constructed Eco-building.With this Festival, cartoonists are usually accommodated by the villagers and my hosts have always been Alain and Claude, a lovely couple who live in the next woodland village called Royeres.
Drawing people at the Festival was a good feeling that cannot be replaced. Many who visited the exhibition centre wanted to be drawn or a drawing done for them. They also went round viewing the beautiful display of cartoons by various cartoonists. I’ve exhibited my cartoons at the festival for years and this year’s was no exception. In fact my first award was presented to me at this festival years past for my contribution to Press Cartoons.