Dancing, food, fun at multicultural festival

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Every year in on the last weekend of September, communities across the country take part in Culture Days, a national initiative to engage Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

This year on September 29, the Cochrane Immigrant Services Committee is re-imagining how the town participates in the annual event with a new one-day affair called ‘Cochrane Culture Fest’.

“In 2019, we thought we would like to put on a multi-cultural event more focused on different countries and immigrants and newcomers to our town and celebrating the diversity that Cochrane is starting to really show in these last few years,” said Jackie Shier of the event’s planning committee.

“In the past, we’ve had a picnic and a citizenship ceremony at the end of August, and last year had to be canceled due to poor air quality with the smoke. This year we thought we’d move it indoors and partner with Alberta Culture Days to showcase what’s going on in our town.”

Inside the Cochrane Lions Event Centre, attendees will see, hear and taste some of the best aspects of sixteen different global cultures.

“We’ll have booths where they’ll be showcasing items from their culture or maybe some of their food or crafts or handiwork,” said Shier.

“People can walk around and sample the food and learn more about their neighbours here in town. At the same time, throughout the afternoon we’re going to be having an entertainment program running.”

Twelve acts are on the schedule. The program runs from 1-5 p.m..

“We have dance groups from Bulgaria, Latin America, an performer from the Stoney Nakoda Nation, we’ll have some Portuguese dancers, Filipino dancers, Indian dancers as well,” she added.

Make sure to stop by the offerings outside the event centre too.

“Outdoors, we have some groups that are part of our immigrant services committee or supporters of newcomers in town,” said Shier.

“The Boys and Girls Club will be having a fundraising barbecue, we have the Cochrane Public Library, the Parent Link Centre, the Stockmen’s Library that’s coming out and a few vendors as well selling cultural items.”

Cochranites can also take part in a ‘cultural mosaic’ project.

“We’re going to be asking residents of Cochrane and area to volunteer to have their photos taken holding up a little chalkboard showing where they came from,” she explained.

“Whether they came from Vancouver or Venezuela we’d love to have their photo, and then we’re going to make a big mosaic of this to travel around town so that people can have a look at the faces of Cochrane to see how our diversity has changed over the years.”

Shier hopes the format of the festival will continue into the future.

“We’re hoping it will be an annual thing. We’re hoping that next year, even more cultures will want to come forward and be part of the fun.”

Cochrane Culture Fest 2019 is free to attend.

“We would just be happy if the community would come out and enjoy learning about their neighbours. We have door prizes and all kinds of fun things for the afternoon, and it is meant to be a family-friendly free event that everybody can come to.”

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