Winnipeg’s Folklorama is celebrating its 50th year and the festival’s newest pavilion is exceeding expectations.
Of its 45 pavilions, the Egyptian pavilion is this year’s lone new addition to Folklorama, billed as the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world.
Organizer Hala Salama says she hopes the pavilion’s debut will encourage Winnipeg’s Egyptian community of roughly 5,000 to get together on a regular basis.
“We really, really wanted to present Egypt to people to show them what is Egypt today,” she says. “Everybody knows Egypt in history and with pharaohs. There’s a lot of improvement and new development — the economy is growing.”
The pavilion has sold out all but one of its shows and has been forced to expand its capacity from 350 people to 600 due to demand.
“We’ve been trying to do this event for a couple of years and this year we decided to go ahead and do it,” says the pavilion’s head chef, George Abraham. “We planned to have a certain amount of people and suddenly we have a certain amount of people and suddenly it’s getting crazy with lots of people.”
Organizers say the pavilion’s hospitality is helping build Winnipeg’s Egyptian community.
“We are meeting new people we have never met before,” says Salama. “Many stories come up, like people that rode the school bus together in Egypt 15 years ago have been in Winnipeg together for so many years and they’ve never met until here in the pavilion.”
WATCH: Folklorama celebrates 50 years