We attended Folklorama this year. It is a huge multi-cultural festival that runs for the first two weeks of August here in Winnipeg. Over 40 pavilions staffed by over 20,000 volunteers participate to showcase authentic foods and displays about other cultures. There is also live entertainment.
We purchased a VIP Bus Tour that shuttles visitors to three different pavilions. At each pavilion visitors get a sample of the cuisine and attend a show (live entertainment). For our tour, we visited the Africa Pavilion, the First Nations Pavilion and the Celtic Ireland Pavilion.
At the Africa Pavilion we saw works of art and fashions created by African artists (some of which were for sale). The appetizer was fried plantain and a fruit punch drink. The drink was delicious. I’m pretty sure I tasted guava and mango in it but I’m not sure what else. The entertainment was singing and dancing. It was very energetic! I loved hearing the different African languages.
The First Nations Pavilion was different. It was quiet and serene. We enjoyed an Indian Taco for our meal — although I question whether fry bread is traditional First Nations food. The show had singing and dancing and celebrated the Seven Traditional Teachings which make up the core values of First Nations cultures. It breaks my heart that much First Nations’ culture and so many of the traditions were decimated and almost erased by colonial settlerism. I keep thinking that if colonial settlers had adopted the First Nations’ teachings, the world might just be a better place.
Our final destination was the Celtic Ireland Pavilion. We were served an apple cobbler type dessert. I was looking forward to seeing the show of Irish Dancers, picturing in my mind the type of traditional Irish dancing my sister did about 30 years ago, perhaps accompanied by some fiddles and maybe an Irish tin whistle. What we saw was quite different. It was almost like a rock concert! The dancers were still doing Irish dancing but with a powerful modern twist in sparkly glam skirts. We also saw World Irish Dance Champion and star of Riverdance, John Lonergan. Holy cow he was amazing to watch!
If you have the opportunity to come to Winnipeg, make sure it is during Folklorama. Buy tickets. Go to as many pavilions as you can. Learn how amazing other cultures are. Appreciate the power of diversity.