This past weekend marked the 41st annual Brantford International Villages Festival.
15 villages were scattered across Brantford, enticing people with their exotic dances, traditional dress, and mouthwatering delicacies. Among the most popular villages, judging by the crazy lines, were Latin America, Ukraine, and a personal favourite, India.
The International Villages provide a cultural outlet in the city, where people can embrace their own culture while exposing and sharing it with others. At the Chinese Village, Mayor Cindy Li stated, “I love Canadian culture, and Canadian culture is with me everyday, and I know I’m a true Canadian. But at the same time, in my blood, is Chinese culture. [It’s] been with me every single moment, and… I appreciate that you could come to our village.”
Arguably, the best part of the festival was the vast array of food that was offered at each of the villages. Lines stretched across rooms and out doors, while pierogies, butter chicken, and lasagna (to name a few) flew off the proverbial shelves. If it wasn’t enough to merely eat the traditional foods that the villages had to offer, many of them also offered beer, wine, and other traditional cocktails from their countries, which undoubtedly had a hand in kick-starting the parties each night.
President of the Brantford International Villages Festival, Pat Eyzenga, has been running the festival for the past 41 years, and says that while they do not have the exact numbers yet, “this year was better than other years.” Eyzenga is expecting that the number of passports sold this year will top the sales of previous years, which is not surprising considering the amount of effort that goes into planning the festival. Planning starts in September, and by December, all of the villages are confirmed and start preparing for the festivities.
Whether you wanted to be a bystander at the riveting Indian performances, dance to poppy live Italian music, or get “Screeched in” at the Atlantic village, the festival had something for everyone. Thoughtful words were spoken by Mayors and Ambassadors of the villages, and each experience was rich in culture and history—making it not only a fun weekend, but an educational one as well.