August 6, 2017


Winnipeg’s world-renowned annual festival of nations known as FOLKLORAMA has begun for another year. The two-week event – now in its 48th year – welcomes thousands of visitors to some 41 pavilions across the city. Winnipeg’s ethnic and national communities host “Pavilions” at various venues across the city. Schools, arenas, churches, auditoriums and halls are transformed into extraterritorial embassies of sorts where visitors enter into a different world of the culture, cuisine and spirit of different countries, different peoples. Some of the larger communities are able to host two pavilions – one for each week. The Portuguese, Hungarians and Ukrainians are among the communities that host a Pavilion each week. There are 41 pavilions this year at the two weeks of Folklorama (…an important number to remember when filling out the information card to win a train trip to Vancouver). The for a relatively nominal fee ($6) Pavilions offer great cultural displays, an excellent stage show and sometimes even small workshops about the history or craft-making. For a small additional cost, visitors can enjoy the authentic cuisine of the particular nation and their traditional drinks and usually souvenirs are available. It is really a rare yet so easily accessible source to explore the peoples and cultures of the world – your neighbours right here in your own city.

       For believers, it will also be fascinating to see how religion has shaped the culture of particular nations and how important religion is to them today. Some, like the Serbian Pavilion, display their religion front-and-centre as the pride of their culture. At other pavilions one has to search to discover the subtle influence of religious faith on aspects of the culture – at least as displayed at Folklorama by the host community.

       Please send in your experiences and photos (better yet – articles!) and we will be happy to post them.

       The “Spirit of Ukraine” Pavilion asked that their week begin with a prayer and a blessing. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, parish priest to some of the pavilion’s volunteers, offered a prayer and blessing on the opening day – Sunday, 6 August. He asked the Lord to bless the pavilion with success in its goal of sharing the Ukrainian culture and spirit with the thousands of visitors over the week. He, of course, prayed that everyone – volunteers and visitors – would have a fun and safe experience. Finally, he asked that the people of Ukraine, whose culture was being promoted at the Pavilion, would be granted a speedy end to the war and that the Lord in His mercy would return peace and prosperity to people of that amazing beloved country. Space at their venue perhaps doesn’t allow Spirit of Ukraine to have a very large display area, but they have great foot, hospitality and they invariably deliver an explosive stage show with the Zoloto Dance Ensemble, as they have for years.

       The Celtic-Irish Pavilion was loud and enthusiastic with its lively fiddle music and River-Dance-like performances of groups and individuals. The children also brought down the house with their actually quite good dance routines.

       The Serbian Beograd Pavilion – hosted at the Serbian St. Sava Church on Talbot Avenue is small but their warmth and authentic hospitality makes it a must visit Folklorama venue. The church itself is the cultural exhibit with some historical displays and souvenir tables in the back. Most of the displays and the articles for sale are religious in nature! One of the priests picked up a beautiful set of chotky and a prosphora seal at the shop! The parish priest himself serves as a volunteer at the Pavilion giving tours of the church and explaining the symbolism to guests.

       You will not regret visiting as many pavilions as you can over the next two weeks – ending Sunday August 19. Visit the other Ukrainian Pavilion in the second week – Ukraine-Kyiv. After visiting Kyiv and other Pavilions earlier in the week…. Make your way to the great Marian Pilgrimage at the Grotto at Cooks Creek, Manitoba – just a few minutes out of Winnipeg.


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