All the world's on stage at Folklorama
By PAUL TURENNE, STAFF REPORTER
It's Folklorama time again, and it's a darn good thing, because where else can you get your picture taken with a giant talking llama, while men in kilts toss basketball-sized rocks behind you and dragons dance in the background? Assiniboine Park transformed into a global village yesterday as thousands of people gathered in front of the Lyric Theatre to watch Folklorama kick off its 34th season of music, art, food, and fun.
"The festival is just so much a reflection of the Winnipeg community that people really take ownership of the event," said Judy Murphy, executive director of the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg.
Yesterday's launch featured singing and dancing from Ireland, China, Latin America and other areas, as well as activities for kids. There was also an ethnic market featuring everything from Ukrainian wooden flutes to mini-moccasins. The festival will feature 47 pavilions this year, with 22 opening tonight and 25 opening next Sunday. There are no new pavilions, but Croatia and Indo-China return after being absent last year, said Murphy. Last summer's festival set a 10-year high for attendance, with 476,000 individual pavilion visits. Murphy said she's optimistic that number will be beaten this year.
Gabriella Maria Onutu, a University of Manitoba student from Romania, is excited to experience her first Folklorama.
"I'm looking forward to seeing my Romanian community here," she said. "I'm looking forward to speaking my language and eating Romanian food, because we have some really good food."
Individual pavilion tickets are $3.75, with 12-visit family packs going for $33.75. Pavilion guides are available at liquor stores and at www.folklorama.ca.