Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The World In A Day



What do you talk about when you get home from a trip? Well sometimes you talk about the food you tried. Often you talk about some unique item that you picked up at a local market, marche, souk, bazaar, or pasar. You might even mention a local dance or cultural tradition that you witnessed. Now wouldn't it be nice if you could get all those experiences at one place, without the hassle of airports, bad taxis, smelly hotels, greasy touts and crappy toilets?
Well you can.
But only in Canada eh.
And only in my home town.

The Edmonton Heritage Festival has be running now for 34 years. I'm not sure who thought of it but what a brilliant idea. Basically the organisers went around to all the ethnic communities and asked them to each set up a pavilion in a park for 3 days. The pavilion could have handicrafts unique to that ethnic group or culture as well as food treats. Later on the pavilions were allowed to set up stages to present music, dance or well...whatever. Hundreds of thousands of people show up to this event every year, making it one of the most successful summer festivals in the country.

I just arrived here on Sunday. So I only caught the last day. Still we were lucky in that the weather gods were favorable (sometimes it snows here in August) and we were able to enjoy a perfect day. It would be really tough to see everything in one day - there were 62 pavilions representing everyone from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. I did manage to get a few pics of the pavilions we managed to visit. Please enjoy.




What cultural festival in Canada would be complete without an Indian Teepee? The First Nations pavilions featured some spectacular local artists.





Scandinavian pavilion complete with longboat. Why am I reminded of Beowulf?





The Japanese pavilion put on a kendo display





The Indonesian community has had a pavilion here for the last 3 years now. Unfortunately they had some trouble with the sound system today but the kitchen was open. They served up some very passable beef rendang as well as sate ayam. They were sharing the stage with the Dutch contingent - check out the skirts on the stage.




The Dragon from the Chinese pavilion In addition to china proper, Hong Kong and Taiwan also had pavilions. The Chinese were probably the first asian immigrants into Canada and were instrumental in the building of the national railroad.









I saved the best for last. The Arabs put on an awesome display in their pavilion. I think they won first prize (again) this year. Everything here from spices to jewelry to clothing to hubbly bubbly (water pipes - my favorite) is here.

I really can't think of too many better ways to kill a day. After a few hours of tromping about we got home stuffed and exhausted. Edmonton has a well deserved reputation as a cold and dreary place in the winter time. However on a day like today I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

2 comments:

accordingtod said...

yessss... definitely the food!
i was crossing my fingers hoping to see 'indonesia' and there it is!
what a cool event... and no jet lag? sweet!

pj said...

D
Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment. Its definitely an event where an appetite is required. We were so lucky this year weather-wise. There have been years where it rained for the entire festival.