Dab your way around the world Free Press Folklorama Bingo card invites Winnipeggers to take in two-week cultural festival one square at a time
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There are exactly 24 pavilions taking part in this year’s Folklorama, which kicks off Sunday and runs until Aug. 13.
There are also exactly 24 squares on a bingo card, minus the free space.
So, we thought we’d take advantage of this serendipity to present our first-ever Folklorama Bingo, a fun challenge that encourages you to get out there and experience some culture.
Can you hit enough pavilions to get a line? How about the full card? (A tip to maximize your experience: the 9:45 p.m. shows on Monday and Tuesday nights are $1 admission, thanks to funding from the Manitoba Government.)
In addition to some sweet, sweet bragging rights — and the satisfaction of a complete bingo card to admire — you could also win a Free Press tote bag. Mail your completed card — which you can print off — along with your name and contact information to 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6 attn: Jen Zoratti or Eva Wasney by Monday, Aug. 22.
Or you can email a photo or PDF of your completed card to email@example.com. In addition to your Proof-of-Bingo, you also have to tell us what your favourite pavilion was and why. No cheating. Winners will be contacted.
This bingo card is for the entire festival, so take note of which pavilions are during Week 1 (July 31-Aug.6) or Week 2 (Aug.7-13). For ticket information, as well as pavilion hours and showtimes, visit folklorama.ca
B1: Enjoy plantains at the Africa Pavilion
While many Folklormama pavilions focus on one nation, the Africa Pavilion weaves together multiple cultures from across an entire continent. That diversity is perhaps best reflected in the versatile plantain — a quintessential staple in many different African cuisines. Africa is the world’s largest producer of the starchy cooking banana, which shows up in all kinds of sweet and savoury snacks and main dishes, depending on the region. Wash it down with a Keyan Tusker beer, or the pavilion’s house specialty, African Punch.
Week 2: Holy Cross Gym, 290 Dubuc St.
B2: Learn about Ma’at at the Egyptian Pavilion
The Egyptian goddess Ma’at, with her iconic ostrich feather of truth, is the personification of seven concepts: truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality and justice. The ancient Egyptians believed that Ma’at, the daughter of Ra, god of the sun, kept the universe in balance. They also believed that the heart held the record of one’s life and, after a person died, their heart would be weighed against Ma’at’s feather on a golden scale. In order for a person to reach the afterlife, the two must balance. Learn more in the cultural exhibition at the Egyptian Pavilion, where you can also snack on traditional Egyptian street food and drinks.
Week 2: RBC Convention Centre, North Building, Main Floor, 375 York Ave.
B3: Tap along to musical spoons at Pavillon canadien-français
It’s a weeklong kitchen party at the Pavillon canadien-français. Experience the joie de vivre of French-Canadiana via the lively music: toe-tapping fiddle and its percussive accompaniment, the wooden spoons. Of course, it’s not a kitchen party without food: feast on tourtière and pets de soeur — the literal translation of which is ‘sister’s or nun’s farts’ — which is a rolled dessert pastry. Of course, no visit to the Pavillon canadien-français would be complete without a glass of Caribou.
Week 2: Centre culturel franco-manitobain, 340 Provencher Blvd.
B4: Watch a fan dance at the Japanese Pavilion
The Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba’s Aurora Dance Group has been sharing classical, semi-classical and folk dances at Folklorama for 21 years and counting. The all-female troupe performs synchronized dances in colourful kimonos with fans, parasols and other props. This year’s entertainment will also feature martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremonies, flower arranging and high-energy drumming by the Hinode Taiko ensemble. Grab some sushi, sake and shaved ice and enjoy the show.
Week 1: Petrus Hall, 2624 Inkster Blvd.
B5: Savour some injera at the Ethiopian Pavilion
Injera, a fermented flatbread traditionally made from the flour of teff, a tiny grain found in Ethiopia, is the centrepiece of the Ethiopian Pavilion experience, and rightly so: injera is central to Ethiopian dining. Pieces of injera, which doubles as both utensil and serving surface, are torn and then used to scoop up stews and salads, and then the injera itself is eaten, its spongy texture perfect for sopping up delicious sauces and broths. Enjoy it while taking in some Ethiopian dance.
Week 2: Ethiopian Cultural Centre, 215 Selkirk Ave.
I1: Take in folk dancing at the Romanian Pavilion
Wearing traditional red and white garb and stepping together in circular formation, the Balada Dance Team is a fixture at the Romanian Pavilion. The group is made up of first- and second-generation Romanians and features more than 30 dancers and musicians of all ages. They perform to modern and traditional tunes that represent the regional diversity of the country. On the menu is imported wine, beer and popular Romanian dishes.
Week 1: Bronx Park Community Center, 720 Henderson Hwy.
I2: See the Red River jig at the Métis Pavilion
It’s a hard-stepping, toe-tapping dance named after the birthplace of the Métis Nation. The Red River jig is just one of the dance styles you’ll catch during a performance from the Asham Stompers — a local traditional dance ensemble — at this year’s Folklorama pavilion. You’ll be hard pressed to stay in your seat when the fiddle starts up and the square dancing begins. The Métis Pavilion returned to the festival in 2018 after an eight-year hiatus and features specialty dishes made with Manitoba ingredients in addition to the onstage entertainment.
Week 1: Heather Curling Club, 120 Youville St.
I3: Celebrate midsummer at the Scandinavian Pavilion
It’s midsummer all season long at the Scandinavian Pavilion. The pagan holiday is typically celebrated across northern Europe — and elsewhere in the world — in late June to align with the summer solstice. Events often include dancing around the maypole, a modern version of fertility dances that used to take place around living trees, paired with plenty of food, drink and flowers. The pavilion is hosted by the Scandinavian Cultural Centre, which represents locals with Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish heritage.
Week 1: Scandinavian Cultural Centre, 764 Erin St.
I4: Eat falafel at the Israel Pavilion
Falafel, deep-fried balls made from spiced ground chickpeas, are a street-food staple in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, including Israel, where it is widely considered the national dish. Tucked into a pita or as part of a meze — a selection of small dishes — there are lots of ways to enjoy this versatile vegetarian treat. Sample some traditional Israeli pastries and Sabra chocolate orange liqueur while getting lost in the magic of the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble.
Week 2: Asper Jewish Community Campus, 123 Doncaster St.
I5: Explore traditional textiles at the Casa do Minho Portuguese Pavilion
Bright flowers adorn the headscarves and skirts of women dressed in traditional folk garments from the northern Portuguese province of Minho. Visitors will be able to catch the striking textiles in action during the swirling, twirling partner dance performances at this year’s pavilion. The venue’s outdoor grill will be running full tilt to keep up with orders of Portuguese delicacies, such as fresh grilled sardines. Wash down your meal with a pint of imported Sagres or a glass of Vinho Verde, a.k.a. green wine — a regional speciality.
Week 1: Casa Do Minho Portuguese Centre, 1080 Wall St.
N1: Watch fiddlers at the Irish Pavilion
The fiddle is the perfect accompaniment to the lilting songs and high-stepping dances of Ireland. The Irish Association of Manitoba celebrates its 50th anniversary during this year’s festival with a full slate of entertainment. Onstage acts include local fiddler Erin Okrainec, O’Hanlon’s Horsebox, the Flatland Ceili Band and students from the McDonnell School of Irish Dance. Sample the menu of colcannon (a mashed potato dish), stew and bread pudding. Chase it down with a pint of Guinness and a dram of Irish whiskey.
Week 1: Soul Sanctuary, 2050 Chevrier Blvd.
N2: Make a kolam at the Tamil Pavilion
So you think you can draw? Those who visit the Tamil Pavilion will be able to try making Kolam, a traditional decorative art form. Kolam is a geometric line drawing composed around a grid of dots, and was traditionally rendered in rice flour but can also be done in chalk or stone. Kolams are believed to bring prosperity to the home, and signal that all is well within. In places such as Tamil Nadu, many women draw kolams outside their front entrances at the dawn of a new day. Tamil is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world, and just as you will hear it spoken in many countries all over the world, so too will you find kolam.
Week 2: Burton Cummings Community Centre, 960 Arlington St.
N3: Folklorama Llama free square!
N4: Listen to bagpipers at the Pavilion of Scotland
Bagpipes, a sound like no other, are best experienced live. The Glenaura Pipes and Drums band will bring the classic Scottish instrument to life during nightly performances with the Ena Sutton Highland Dancers and the Flying Haggis Show Band — the latter is a bekilted group that specializes in a blend of traditional folk songs and modern covers. Guest pipe bands from across the province will be featured at an outdoor tent between mainstage shows. Workshops include yarn spinning and scotch tasting.
Week 1: Centro Caboto Centre, 1055 Wilkes Ave.
N5: Support humanitarian efforts at the Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion
Against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, this pavilion honours the country’s resilient identity and rich history. Revenue from this year’s festival will be directed to humanitarian aid efforts and assisting Ukrainians arriving in Canada. The Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion has been running since the inception of Folklorama in 1970 and will include performances from local Ukrainian dance schools and musical ensembles. Dinner reservations can be made online for a plate of varenyky (perogies), holubets (cabbage rolls) and kovbasa (sausage).
Week 1: Maples Collegiate, 1330 Jefferson Ave.
G1: Celebrate the Italian Pavilion’s 50th anniversary
The Italian Pavilion is celebrating its cinquantesimo or 50th anniversary this year, making it among the longest-running pavilions in the festival’s history. Celebrate this cornerstone of Folklorama with pizza, pasta, Italian wine and, of course, gelato, while taking in a stage show that makes this pavilion a perennially popular one. You can expect some fond reminiscing and stories from Italian Pavilions past at this year’s edition, too.
Week 2: Centro Caboto Centre, 1055 Wilkes Ave.
G2: Take in Irish dancing at the Celtic Ireland Pavilion
The electric performances from the Brady Academy of Irish Dance — one of the largest Irish dance academies in Canada — have long been high on the list of Folklorama must-sees, thanks to their Riverdance-style footwork and choreography. Grab some pub grub and a pint of Guinness to round out your trip to the Emerald Isle.
Week 2: Fort Garry Curling Club, 696 Archibald St.
G3: Enjoy a bowl of mulah bamia at the South Sudanese Pavilion
Bring your appetite to the South Sudanese Pavilion, where you can fill up on a regional specialty that highlights the country’s East African and Middle Eastern-influenced cuisine: mulah bamia — a hearty okra stew with a tomato base. Also on the menu are ta’amia, or falafel balls. South Sudan is the youngest country in the world, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The nation is home to 64 diverse tribes, many of which will be represented through cultural dances and displays.
Week 1: Sudanese Community Cultural & Resource Centre, 129 Dagmar St.
G4: Try medenjaki at the Slovenija Pavilion
One of the most delightful things about the Slovenija Pavilion are the hand-crafted, too-beautiful-to-eat (almost) pastries on offer, including tortes, breskve (which are cookies that look like adorable little peaches) and, of course, mendenjaki — a soft honey gingerbread cookie. For those whose palates skew more savoury, barbecue pork and chicken will be on offer, as well as a host of cultural beverages to enjoy while taking in some traditional folk dance.
Week 2: Bronx Park Community Centre, 720 Henderson Hwy.
G5: Down a beer (or other beverage) at the Belgian Pavilion
From chocolate to waffles, Belgium is famous for all kinds of tasty treats. Perhaps tastiest of all are the European country’s wide array of beers. You can sample some of the well-crafted bevvies — from Fruli to Duvel to Gulden Draak — at the pavilion’s host venue, the Belgian Club. The bar also has non-alcoholic beverage options. It might be a good idea to leave the beer tasting until after you’ve tried your hand at some of the cultural activities, like pole archery, lace making and Belgian bowling.
Week 1: Le Club Belge, 407 Provencher Blvd.
O1: Eat langos at the Hungary-Pannonia Pavilion
If you’ve never tried langos, a popular Hungarian street food, now is the time to change that. A decadent deep-fried flatbread often topped with garlicky sour cream and cheese, langos is something that you will find yourself craving long after the festival. Other must-tries include the pavilion’s famed cabbage rolls — so big they eat like a meal — paprika chicken and dumplings, and Pálinka, a traditional fruit spirit. The folk band Dobroda and the energetic Kaptisztran Folk dancers will keep you entertained.
Week 2: RBC Convention Centre, North Building, 2nd Floor, 375 York Ave.
O2: Order a bratwurst at the German Pavilion
Bring on the brats. Volunteers will be busy cooking up bratwurst, German sausage, and other local specialties — like schnitzel, spatzel and sauerkraut — during this year’s festival. The pavilion, hosted by the German-Canadian Congress of Manitoba, will be Oktoberfest-themed, so expect the Bavarian beer to be flowing. Wine, schnapps and desserts are also on the menu, alongside traditional singing and dance performances.
Week 1: Holy Cross Gym, 290 Dubuc St.
O3: Load up on perogies at the Polish Pavilion
Dumplings exist in cuisines across the world and can be stuffed with all manner of sweet and savoury ingredients. In Poland, the humble perogy is no different — although, you can’t go wrong with a classic potato and cheese ‘rogi. Order a plate with a side of Polska kielbasa (polish sausage), Golonka (pork hock) or Bigos (hunters’ stew) at the Polish Pavilion. The menu is paired with the graceful leaps and dives of local Polish dance ensembles.
Week 1: RBC Convention Centre, North Building, Main Floor, 375 York Ave.
O4: Check out a performance at the Spirit of Ukraine Pavilion
Founded in 1991, the Zoloto Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, a favourite of Folklorama and beyond, can be relied upon for delivering lively, show-stopping performances that draw from different styles of music and dance from different regions of Ukraine. Admire the colourful vinok — the traditional wreaths of flowers and ribbons — and indulge in a variety of traditional Ukrainian food and drink.
Week 2: Soul Sanctuary, 2050 Chevrier Blvd.
O5: Munch on chana masala at the Punjab Pavilion
Since entering the Folklorama pavilion circuit a decade ago, the Punjab Pavilion has become a destination pavilion. Celebrate its 10th anniversary by savouring chana masala — literally spiced chickpeas — kadhi (a yogurt-based vegetarian curry), samosa, tandoori chicken and more. This pavilion offers a feast for your other senses, too: the entertainment at the Punjab Pavilion is always sensational.
Week 2: Punjab Cultural Centre, 1770 King Edward St.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and author of the newsletter, NEXT, a weekly look towards a post-pandemic future.