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Brantford and area residents experience tour of the world

FeaturesBrantford and area residents experience tour of the world

Thousands of residents had the world at their doorstep during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages Festival, which ran from Wednesday, July 3, through Saturday, July 6, 2024.

The festival was first created as part of the centennial anniversary of the invention of the telephone in 1974 and the event has been a staple in the community ever since.

Children of all ages show off their moves at the India village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

As this year marked 50 years of instilling excitement, awareness, education and cultural pride, both local residents and out-of-town visitors were sure to attend the multicultural experience.

During this year’s event, attendees had the chance to visit 15 villages, including the: British, Chinese, East Coast Canada, Hungarian, India, Italian, Muslim, New York, Palestinian, Philippine, Polish Polonaise, Polish Warszawa, Scottish, Ukrainian, and United Africa villages.

For $10, travelers were issued a passport that gave them access to all 15 the villages scattered across the city as well as free bus transportation with three different routes.

Drummers entertain the crowd at the United Africa village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

While many people spent Wednesday and Thursday hopping from each of the ten open villages, on Friday night, the Polish Warszawa, Palestinian, British, East Coast Canada, and Scottish villages opened their doors for an evening of even more entertainment, unique cuisines and beverages, as well as cultural displays of costumes and history.

Morgan McKay plays his fiddle inside the Scottish village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Brantford resident, Nikki Pinto, said that it was her third evening out and about and that she was hoping to visit most, if not all of the villages.

“So far I’ve been to seven villages and I’m still hoping to get two more in tonight. They’ve all been really good and really busy so it’s nice that there’s been a great turnout. Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve known people,” she laughed. “I think the villages are always fun because not only is it an affordable night out but we all get to experience everyone’s culture and it just brings everyone together, you really can’t beat that.”

The senior boys Ukrainian dancers perform a groomsmen dance during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Victoria Wroblewski, this year’s Polish ‘Warszawa’ village ambassador, greeted guests at the doors before sending them into the Polish Community Centre Brantford at 126 Albion St. for food and several dance numbers from Brantford’s Wisla Dance Ensemble and Potok Dance ensemble as well as London’s Cracovia Dance Ensemble.

Residents lined up for a chance to enjoy several food options including, pierogies, meatballs, potato, cabbage rolls and sauerkraut.

Several children perform a dance number at the Philippine village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Over at the Philippine location at the Sydenham-Heritage United Church, hundreds of visitors indulged in both sweet and savory foods. From lumpia (spring rolls) and pancit (noodles), to mango ice cream and halo halo (another cold desert), there was no shortage of flavours for the taste buds to enjoy.

On stage, dancers showed off a variety of Philippine folk and traditional dances, as well as karaoke later in the evening.

At the India village on Market Street, the celebrations continued as residents of all ages showed off their moves and visitors hopped in line for beef korma, tandoori chicken, tikka masala and butter chicken.

Three youngsters were all smiles as they performed one of their many dance routines at the India Village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Later, many residents patiently outside of the Scottish village at the Brantford Air Force Club for their chance to catch one of six popular highland dance shows, bagpipe and fiddle performances.

With this year being the Scottish village’s first return since the pandemic, Chairperson Ian Davidson, said that he was thrilled with the turnout. 

“This is the first night we’re open and we’ve just been so busy,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the busiest villages tonight because we have six shows and we’ve been packed for every one of them. It’s great to see that after 50 years this event is still going and people are having such a great time.”

Members of London’s Cracovia Dance Ensemble take part in a group dance during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Just around the corner at the Ukrainian village at Harmony United Church, the lines continued as many eagerly waited to catch the last show of the evening. 

Upon entrance into the church, nearly 100 guests grabbed their seats or lined up for food. Guests ranted and raved about the pierogis, cabbage rolls, shiskabobs, sausages and sauerkraut.

While visitors were busy checking out displays of Ukrainian history and art, it didn’t take long for them to get back to their seats as the dancers took to the stage to wow the crowd with their impressive rendition of a Ukrainian wedding.

Ukrainian dancers perform the Rushnyk Dance during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

Michelle Mepham, one of the many local residents in attendance, said she always enjoys the opportunity to experience not only her own cultures but others as well. 

“I think it’s great to have a little bit of the world in the City of Brantford. There’s such a great variety and I feel like there’s a couple new ones that I’ve never been to before,” she said. “It’s just so cool to be able to go around and see everyone so connected and sharing all their different cultures. Between being able to try different foods you may not try elsewhere and watching all the cultural dances, it’s really special. I think people love watching the entertainment and even just connecting with people. It’s always a good time every year.”

A bagpiper warms up before heading into the Scottish village for his performance during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.
Youngsters perform one of their many dance numbers at the Philippine village during the 50th annual Brantford International Villages on Friday, July 5, 2024.

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