Celebrating Manitoba’s cultural roots

Iconic festival Folklorama celebrates province’s diverse communities

Folklorama offers insight into a variety of different cultural practices that one may not be able to experience on a daily basis.

Traditions, styles of dress, dance, song, ethnic food and customs are brought forward through the many pavilions that make up the annual Folklorama festival. Based in Winnipeg, Folklorama contributes to the strength of Winnipeg’s tourism industry.

Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 18, attendees are treated to 43 pavilions that promote Manitoba’s ethno-cultural diversity.

Teresa Cotroneo, acting executive director of Folklorama, said the organization’s mission is to promote diversity and cultural understanding.

“Not only do you get to experience world-wide entertainment and authentic culture, but there’s also an opportunity to truly learn about each other’s cultures,” said Cotroneo.

Interactive aspects of the pavilions also allow younger children to participate in the festivities around them. Cotroneo said, for example, that attendees might be able to play steel drums or wear a sari at certain pavilions.

Outside of the festival, Folklorama continuously works throughout the year to promote cultural understanding in Canada through Folklorama Travel, Folklorama Talent Agency and Folklorama Teachings.

“We actually have three other business divisions that operate throughout the entire year that carry out the mission of the organization,” Cotroneo said.

“And that’s actually something that people don’t know — that those divisions exist.”

Folklorama Talent Agency works with the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF) to give pavilion performers the chance to perform internationally and also allows the public to book the cultural performers from the festival for private affairs such as conferences, weddings, galas and corporate events.

Folklorama Teachings holds workshops that encourage participants to understand and appreciate differences between their cultural identity and someone else’s, while growing in their own traditions.

Folklorama Travel creates itineraries for visitors from around the world who decide to travel both inside and outside of the festival season. Cotroneo said the organization does over 250 bookings a year throughout Manitoba.

“When we build custom itineraries for these groups, there’s always a cultural component with the opportunity to engage the group showcasing, sharing the diversity which we love so much of course,” said Cotroneo.

Cotroneo went on to say the festival usually gets more than 400,000 visits per year.

 “That’s visits, not visitors, but visits and it really varies every year dependent on the number of pavilions participating every year and the capacity of those pavilions. We’re expecting similar numbers to previous years.”