Cue the dancers and prep the food: roughly 350,000 people are expected to take in the Edmonton Heritage Festival this weekend.
“Our theme this year is adventure awaits, and I really think adventure does await,” said Jim Gibbon, executive director of the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association, on Tuesday.
New additions to the festival experience promise more fun and excitement, he said.
READ MORE: Prolonged concerns with Hawrelak Park prompt Heritage Festival to search for new home
Located near the Scandinavia pavilion will be a new Viking Village hosted by The Ravens, an Edmonton based historical re-enactment group.
“They’ll have battle re-enactments and then they let the kids come in and they’ll have pool noodles for that,” Gibbon said with a laugh.
After a 25-year hiatus, the 2019 edition of the festival will also feature some southern flare as organizers host representatives from our American sister city.
“We have people coming up with displays about Nashville life,” said Gibbon.
“We have a restaurateur coming up. His name is Michael King and he owns Monells, one of the best southern fried chicken places in the U.S., and he is coming up here to make us southern fried chicken and pork sliders.”
Gibbon said his group is pleased to be able to include all applicants this year.
“We’ve found little spaces here and there and we keep on adding people,” said Gibbon.
There will be a new Caribbean marketplace as well as new cultural pavilions from Guinea and Mali.
READ MORE: Palestine to put up pavilion for 1st time at 2019 Edmonton Heritage Festival
After years of unsuccessful applications, an independent Palestine pavilion will proudly share its culture at Hawrelak Park this year.
“We tried to stay as true to our roots and our heritage as we can so people will really get that authentic Palestinian experience if they come,” said Mousa Qasqas with the Canada Palestine Cultural Association.
Despite the frustrating road to get to this place, his group of 67 volunteers are thrilled to be offering authentic Palestinian food and dance performances throughout the weekend, Qasqas said.
“It’s a whole community effort and that’s why it’s so exciting because everyone has a part in it,” said Qasqas.
Many things will continue to remain the same this year, like the return of the 11 original pavilions featuring Arab, Caribbean, Chilian, German, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Scandinavian and Welsh cultures.
Gibbon also predicts smooth park-and-ride commutes for 2019 with the continuation of expanded ETS services to Hawrelak Park.