Wednesday marked the beginning of one of Brantford’s most-loved (and most tasty) annual community events. That’s right Brant News readers, it’s time to experience the world close to home during the International Villages Festival.
In its 39th year, the villages festival offers the sights, sounds and flavours of cultures spanning the globe at locations across the City of Brantford. We couldn’t agree more with the comment made by Ukrainian Village representative Rebecca Janes after she was recently crowned this year’s overall International Villages ambassador.
“Without (the villages festival), I feel that the community would be lacking,” Janes said.
The International Villages Festival truly serves as a showcase for Brant’s many cultural communities. This year’s edition of the festival features 15 villages, where you can experience everything from Hungarian cooking to Muslim culture. Villages participating this year include the British, Chinese, German, Guyanese, Hungarian, Indian, Italian, Latin American, Muslim, New York, New York, Philippine, Polish Polonaise, Polish Warszawa, Scottish and Ukrainian.
Brantford Mayor Chris Friel was right when he recently called the villages a shining example of Brantford’s multiculturalism. “I don’t know if we really appreciate how remarkable the villages are,” Friel said. “We share and we really show everyone else how every culture can live together.”
This year, Friel is aiming to ensure that city residents take in as many villages as possible during the four-day event, putting out an online challenge for people to participate in what he calls “speed villaging.” The concept is pretty simple: attend as many villages as possible in one day and chronicle your journey on the social media sites Twitter or Facebook. (On Twitter, use the hashtag #BtfdVillages.)
The mayor has even devised a point system and is offering a prize for the person who accumulates the most points during a single day of the villages festival. Participants will receive five points for showing up at a village, three points for taking in the entertainment at a village and one point for eating food at a village. Get the most points and you win the prize.
We would certainly be remiss for failing to note that the idea for speed villaging was born last year when Brant News reporters Sean Allen and Tom Kennedy (who has since moved to Australia) set out to attend as many villages as possible in one night. For fun, the pair decided to eat something, as well as take a photo for Brant News, at each village they attended.
By chance, Friel, MPP Dave Levac and MP Phil McColeman were also travelling from village to village that night, also attempting to attend as many villages as possible, albeit for different reasons, we’re sure. Sean and Tom bumped into the trio at the first village they attended (the Latin village) and the night soon turned into a friendly competition, with the reporters and politicians taking to Twitter to boast about where they’d been. (We would also be remiss not to mention that Levac, Friel and McColeman attended eight villages that night, while Sean and Tom only managed seven. Chalk one up for the politicians, this time.)
Whether you choose to race through the villages this year or take time to savour the experience, we wish everyone happy travels at this year’s International Villages Festival.
The International Villages Festival runs through Saturday. Festival passports are available at all villages, the Brantford Visitor and Tourism Centre, the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts and Best Western Brant Park Inn. A four-day pass costs $9 and a single-day pass costs $7. Visit www.brantfordvillages.ca for more information.