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Festival puts more cultures than ever into the spotlight

28 countries were represented at the event held over the weekend

Music, food, and fun filled the Mac on Sunday, bringing cultures from all over the world together.

The annual Timmins Multicultural Festival swung into high gear for the second day of celebrations at the McIntyre arena, with 28 countries represented. For the first-time ever, this year's event was two days (May 25-26).

This was the first year an Iranian group took part, and it was a very last-minute experience for Zeinab Asaebakht.

“I figured out we were having an international day in Timmins about a week ago,” said Azaebakht. “It came together very quickly.”

She was looking forward to learning more about her friends’ food and cultures during the event and is already making plans for next year.

“Next year, we’re going to have food and stuff to sell,” she said. “We will have sweets and all kinds of things.”

At the Austria booth, Kyle Carbonneau's family was serving strudel.

“The best part of this event is seeing the different cultures, trying the different foods,” said Carbonneau. “It’s not the inauthentic stuff from the stores. This is the real stuff, and all the recipes come from their own cities and towns.”

Food was a massive draw for the event, with several booths selling out in under an hour.

Lisa Barazzutti said the Ukrainian booth sold out of the 90 dozen pierogies in 20 minutes.

"There were people sitting behind us during the parade, and they rushed to the booth when the doors opened,” she said.  

The Chinese booth had a similar issue, selling much of the food in 10 minutes.

“But there is still arts and crafts left,” said Kevin Chang, who is also the tail of the lion for the Lion dance performance.

“People are taking it in, trying the food, trying the arts and crafts. It’s very amazing to see all these people together in one group,” he said. 

This was also the first year that Mattagami First Nation participated, and Chief Jennifer Constant welcomed everyone to the event.

“I think it’s important that Mattagami be at events like this because we have a lot of different countries represented and different backgrounds represented in Timmins, and these are people living and enjoying the life that they have on our territory, so it’s important that we represent and are present,” she said.

She said there was a lot to take in, and was looking forward to connecting with new people.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the different presentations that take place. That’s a big treat to see that displayed and going to all the booths and meeting all the people, and enjoying the food,” she said. “You really get to know a culture by the food that they eat, and it really is a treat for us. Literally.”

This was the first year the event took place over two days, with more in-depth presentations on different cultures taking place on Saturday afternoon. The record number of participating cultures was a joy to see, said Marnie Lapierre.

“I don’t have a favourite. I love it all,” said Lapierre.

Lapierre said thoughts are already turning to how to grow the event for next year.

“We're hoping that people will fill out the survey and give us some feedback so we can make it even more enjoyable for them,” she said,

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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