From July 5 to July 8, the city of Brantford celebrated its forty-fourth annual International Villages Cultural Festival.
The four-day festival treated the citizens of Brantford to a variety of food, drink, and entertainment from 16 different countries, cultures, and ethnicities – each represented by a Festival Hall.
According to the Brantford Villages website, each Village offered entertainment in the form of music, dancing, ethnic cuisines and a showcase of cultural history.
In order to gain entry to the villages, community members were required to buy Festival Passports which were available for purchase at the Sanderson Centre, Best Western Brant Park Inn and the Brantford Tourism Centre.
“Passports are essentially what allow you to enter every location and there is a flat fee of $10, however, this fee does not cover the cost of food,” explained Amanda Kelly, a front desk agent at Best Western.
Additionally, the purchase of a passport allowed for access to free transportation between villages via shuttle bus. The festival was popular, with the Best Western almost selling out of passports.
The theme at Village Italia, located at Rossini Lodge, was “Valigia D’oro”, which translates to “the golden suitcase.” This acknowledges the valour, determination and sacrifice required of the Italian immigrants that settled in Canada. As described on the Italian Village tab of the Brantford Villages website, “Italians with nothing more than ‘suitcase in hand’ came to this new land in search of adventure, employment, and greater opportunities for their children.”
This story is a familiar one to all of the ethnicities represented in the festival, and one that still rings true for many immigrant families today.
Perhaps this story, shared by many Canadian families, contributed to the success of the festival. “This year, I would say, my god, every evening was packed. Our hall seats about 250 people, and all four evenings it was full,” stated Fernado Forcucci, President of Rossni Lodge, and the host of Village Italia.
Partners involved in making the festival successful include Canadian Heritage, the City of Brantford, CKPC Radio and Zehrs.