August 5, 2017 2:56 pm
Updated: August 5, 2017 2:57 pm

Celebration of culture and global fare at Edmonton Heritage Festival

There are several new pavilions at the Servus Heritage Festival this year.

Global News

Edmonton’s premiere cultural festival kicks off Saturday featuring several new pavilions including a floating one.

The west African nations of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire will feature food for the first time.

“There’s so much to see now, we’d like everyone to come down for two days,” Jim Gibbon, executive director of the festival said. “We’d like to set some records for attendance this year so don’t be afraid to come down three times.”

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Festivalgoers will also get to experience the eastern Caribbean nation of Barbados, along with Trinidad and Tobago, and the Asian delights of Mongolia.

Syria is also new this year.

The Syrian pavilion will feature a festival-first this year: a wedding at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re hoping there’s a lot of people here,” Gibbon said. “All of the pavilions get to do their own entertainment so every half hour, they get to do a dance or show and they came to us and said, ‘Do you mind if we do a wedding?’ and we said, ‘Great!'”

The three-day event features 71 pavilions from around the world, where people can sample food, see creative performances and experience Canada’s multiculturalism.

Australia is also new to the festival this year, featuring a floating pavilion by the water.

“We’re expecting some great white sharks and kangaroos and things,” Gibbon said with a laugh.

The water pavilion was created this year to help manage space.

“There’s limited space here. Once we reach a certain size, we want to take people to areas that aren’t used right now, and make it more open and easier to get around,” Gibbon said.

READ MORE: Edmonton Food Bank looks to Heritage Festival to fill bare shelves, empty stomachs

The Heritage Festival also serves as the largest fundraiser of the year for Edmonton’s food bank.

Donations will be accepted on site.

The food bank said right now, its shelves are empty. It is counting on the community to help by bringing a monetary or non-perishable food donation to the Servus Heritage Festival, which runs Aug. 5 to 7 in Hawrelak Park.

Food bank volunteers will be accepting unused food tickets which, after the festival, will be redeemed for cash towards the food bank’s own purchases.

If you can’t head to the festival, donations can be left at all major grocery stores and City of Edmonton fire halls. Financial donations can also be made online or through the CanadaHelps portal.

Also new this year, suncreen samples will be given away at the welcome tents.

There is no parking at the festival, but the Edmonton Transit System will be operating park-and-ride shuttles.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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