Yesterday we visited Belgium and Colombia vicariously by going to the Belgian and Colombian pavilions at Folkorama, a traditional Winnipeg summer festival. During the two weeks of Folkorama celebrations, groups of people whose families have immigrated to Canada from places around the world, work together to create pavilions that showcase their home country’s culture. The pavilions, located all over the city, offer food, entertainment and activities. More than 40 countries provide showcases each year. We went to Folkorama with our friends Garry and Lynn and Hans and Chris.
We had chorizo sausage and empanadas at the Colombia pavilion and beer stew, turkey soup, Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolates at the Belgium pavilion. Some people in our group had French Fries at the Belgium pavilion. Did you know French Fries were invented in Belgium? There are speciality shops called frietkot in Belgium that sell fries with all kinds of dipping sauces. At the Belgian pavilion they served their fries with mayonaisse. We also tried some Belgian beer. The master of ceremonies at the Belgian pavilion told us there are 500 kinds of Belgian beer. The Belgian pavilion was located in the Belgian Club which is just a five minute drive from our home. The Belgian club in Winnipeg was established in 1905. If the friendly and warm volunteers at the Belgian pavilion are any indication, I’d have to say Winnipeg has a vibrant Belgian community. Their main social activities appear to be Belgian bowling, which some people in our group tried at the Belgian pavilion, and pole archery- which involves shooting at artifical birds perched on poles.
We watched dance shows at both the Belgian and Colombian pavilions. There is a Belgian Dance Club in Winnipeg which meets regularly and is for all ages.
These excited and lovely little girls were part of the Colombia dance group called Folklore de Mi Tierra. They had a large cadre of enthusiastic and talented performers of all ages wearing a variety of colorful costumes. I thought it was great that at both pavilions they were involving children in their dance performance groups. The kids were getting lots of healthy exercise and learning about their family’s cultural heritage at the same time!
We were surprised to be greeted at the Belgian Pavilion by Lyndsay and Alison Kalyta, two young women from Steinbach, the city where Dave and I lived and worked for over thirty years. Lyndsay was a student in my Journalism class at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School. She and her sister are the official Belgian ambassadors for Folkorama. Their mother is Belgian. I want to return to the pavilion this weekend to do a story about the girls for my column in The Carillon.
Although I’ve never been to either Belgium or Colombia, my Folkorama visits will certainly make me consider them as destinations when I’m thinking about what’s next on my travel agenda.