Over 1,500 visitors attended the County of Brant’s inaugural Afro-CariBrant festival at Lions Park in Paris on Saturday, September 9, 2023.
Darmont Events Management, a business that focuses on custom event management for corporate, private and community events, hosted the event through its Darmont GivesBack initiative.
Tobi Adedayo, CEO of Darmont Events, said that she was beyond impressed with the turnout and that her and Essay Folami, Programs Director of Darmont Events, are looking forward to continuing the event for years to come.
“I am grateful that people have come out and embraced the event, the turnout is just amazing,” she said.
The Afro-Caribbean festival is the first of its kind in the County of Brant and was a celebration of the rich culture, traditions and people of the African-Caribbean community within the County and beyond.
David Bailey, Mayor for the County of Brant, said that he was proud to be a part of the event and welcomed visitors to the County.
“We are very pleased to be able to host this event. The County of Brant is all about diversity, giving back, being kind and being respectful. We’re trying to be very diversified and we’re trying to be very inclusive and it’s working. The County of Brant is a wonderful place to live to work and to play, and we welcome you so eagerly today,” said Bailey. “I am just so proud that I’m in place to be the one to tell you that you’re always welcome in the County of Brant and I hope that we do this event on an annual basis. …Thank you to everyone who put this together, it’s the volunteers and the community boosters that are what set places like the County of Brant above and beyond other communities and we are very very proud of the product that we get to offer.”
Mandy Samwell, acting Mayor of the month for the City of Brantford, said that she was honoured to be there and to enjoy the afternoon of “incredible music and culture.”
Throughout the day, adults and children of all ages had the opportunity to explore the park grounds and the event’s many vendors surrounding the park’s playground equipment.
Children could be seen playing and laughing on the playground or dancing along with the Gwan Move fitness workshop with Guyanese Fit Chick (Gayle Smith), while others enjoyed shopping for jewelry, clothing and more.
Food vendors such as Finger Foods Canada, The GrillFather Suya Village, Bunmi Olobe, Grey Matlock Bakery, Get Grill Afro-Asian Kitchen, as well as Butter and Crème Bakery and BBQ, could be seen serving up rich cultural dishes to satisfy the taste buds.
The event also featured several performances throughout the day, including traditional dances from Izimbia Arts, an Efik Traditional Dance, a steelpan performance from Young Legends of Pan, readings from Grand River Grannies, a Gwan Move workshop with Guyanese Fit Chick (Gayle Smith) and plenty more, before fire breather “Chris Fire 10 Entertainment” ended out the evening.
Guests also got the chance to enjoy the Afro-CariBrant fashion show, as well as the Afro Cari-Brant Parade led by Your Carnival Model (YCM).
Michelle Meghie, former Liberal candidate, gave guests a brief history of the meaning and intent of celebrating Carnival.
“Today, the County of Brant has witnessed another ground-breaking event as it brings together cultures and people from all walks of life to celebrate. Carnival is a celebration of freedom,” she said. “We’re here today to make choices because we are free people, we have the freedom to be, freedom to create, freedom to celebrate, freedom to love and freedom to be loved. The Carnival celebration of rebellion against enslavement has been rooted both in Africa and Indigenous cultures. Today, the African-Caribbean people in many cities from across Canada and the world, continue to recognize and celebrate this freedom.”