By Diana Chabai (@dianachabai)
WINNIPEG — From the time you walk into the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, you know that the place to be at Folklorama’s Caribbean Pavilion is near the main stage — that’s where the food is, and that’s where the party is.
The cultural display, although wide and sprawling, felt much more like a market than an educational display. Jewellery, handmade wares, and CDs from the Winnipeg Steel Orchestra were on sale — and some unrelated items, like crocheted Pokémon figures. It’s worth walking around and looking at what the vendors have to offer, but I suggest skipping past the Bob Marley toques.
I drank the rum punch — and boy, the rum packs a punch. The drink looks like a fruity cocktail, smells like nail polish remover, and tastes like it at first – and then the sugar comes in at the end. Don’t drink two of these without a sober friend with you.
I ate the curry chicken with calypso rice and salad — I was intimidated by the “curry” part. Sometimes “curry” is delicious, sometimes it’s so hot that I can’t eat it. I’m not the kind of person that likes to test my stomach strength with spicy food. But don’t fear the curry — it’s very family-friendly. The tender pieces of chicken fall apart and are excellently filling. The rice is pretty plain on its own, and I recommend mixing it with the chicken and eating them together.
The mainstage performance had the most variety of entertainment that I’ve seen so far at Folklorama this year — performances with a live band led by steel drums, dances with children, a performance from local singer Enigma, and the grand finale: limbo dancers and a flaming limbo stick. Nobody else is doing this at any other pavilion. My jaw dropped. You have to see this in person.
Go if: You like to party — the entertainment is something you won’t see at any other pavilion. The pavilion is also hosting late-night parties on Friday and Saturday, and will be open past midnight on those days.
Avoid if: You like to be left alone — the people and volunteers are friendly and would love to chat with you.
The Caribbean Pavilion runs until August 12, and the 48th annual Folklorama runs now until August 19. For more information, visit Folklorama.ca.