The City of Brampton is celebrating 150 years of existence. Kick-off was the "Sesqui Summer Kick-off in Downtown Brampton" event, on the 14th of June. It seemed as though most of the over 320,000 Bramptonions – or "Bramptonites" if you prefer - had come downtown to enjoy the festivities and the wonderful weather.
About 1852 - Brampton was little more than an inn, located at the intersection of two dirt roads and called Buffy’s Corners. These roads are now bustling Queen and Main Streets, forming the heart of downtown Brampton.
Today Highways 401, 407, 410 and 427 strategically place the city at the economical crossroads of international importance and it is Canada’s 13th largest city, which is also expected to double its population by the year 2018. It is also the 3rd largest community in the Greater Toronto Area and the 6th largest in Ontario!
Main Street was closed to traffic between Wellington (City Hall) and Nelson streets to allow pedestrian traffic to view or shop at the many vendors, buskers and bands on both sides of the street. The official opening of the "Brampton Folk Festival" at noon invited visitors to the many attractions and vendors in Gage Park, south of the city hall area.
Some of the static displays even featured an old red Fokker D III Tri-plane, complete with bullet holes, (Manfred von Richthofen – eat your heart out) borrowed from the Air Museum at the Brampton Flying Club, a pony ride and a Dragon Race boat, among other interesting displays – too many to list here.
What topped this wonderful day off was the Sesquicentennial Parade that started at about 5:00 p.m. at Vodden Street and meandered down Main Street to City Hall for about two hours. Led by Her worship Susan Fennell, Brampton’s Mayor, former Ontario Premier William Davis (1981 – 1985) and Carly Skidmore, Miss Brampton International 2003 and the "Little Miss Brampton" Reilly Danielle Sousa, plus a host of other dignitaries, important public figures and politicians.
The colourful parade included the multitude of civic and multicultural organisations active in the Brampton area, bands on floats, marching bands, dancers and of course the antics of the local "Shriners" in their funny little cars, that seemed to be everywhere at the same time. The parade ended with a host of flags from around the world and a banner – carried by members of the Hansa Club – advertising the upcoming "Carabram" festivities from the 11th to the 13th of July, this year. I have yet to see another parade like it – other than the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, of course – although Brampton’s Santa Claus Parade also had about 90,000 watchers last year, so I have been told.
This sesquicentennial event really demonstrated the interesting and wonderful variety of the cultural diversity in the city, which is mainly unrecognized by the media and even most of the citizens themselves. Well done, Brampton!
Carnival is gone…
…but not forgotten. This was demonstrated at the annual "Fun in the Sun" get-together at the Germania Park, near Hamilton. Hosted by the Narrhalla 58 in the big clubhouse, guests had arrived from Downriver Detroit (Timothy and Karen), Narrenzunft, Kitchener, Treue Husaren, Toronto, BDKK, Ascendia, Hamilton etc.
This is always a great social event because you meet and are able to talk to people that you only see once or twice a year at official Mardi Gras functions, where the opportunity for a leisurely conversation is limited. There is just too much going on at these official events.
Unfortunately you also notice the many absentees, many of whom have passed on, or are ailing and unable to attend.
Those with an abundance of energy – not only the kids – can play some of the games like tossing of shoes, trying to catch water balloons – more or less successful – or play volleyball on the lawn in back of the large veranda.
Next meeting: 23 August 2003 at the Treue Husaren Picnic on the 23rd of August in Oakville. See you all there!
After 35 years it seems that this event – that started so wonderful with about 75 Pavilions – has run its course. It was disheartening to see that ever more ethnic groups failed to demonstrate their unique heritage to their multicultural brethren in Toronto.
I visited a few pavilions and noted disastrous effects. Lack of interest; bad locations - some hard to find; none or only limited effort on food service in some pavilions; lack or half-hearted demonstrations of interesting cultural or heritage oriented entertainment in many of them, or openings on only a few of the allotted nine days.
Could it be that the original participants have grown too old, weary or died and insufficient efforts were made in the past to instil enough interest in the younger generations for them to want to carry on? Should all this wonderful "Kulturgut", this cultural heritage die out too? (The American "Melting-pot" idea?)
It appeared that some of the organizers of the individual caravan pavilions didn’t seem to think it worth the effort or could it be that the previous financial backing has dried up, although there were some notable exceptions such as the Tamil, Hungarian, Russian and German Blue Danube (Danube-Swabians) pavilions, for example, where a lot of young people were proud and involved enough to make "their own" pavilion a success.
Regrettably there were not as many "quality" pavilions available as we had in the past, when Leon and Zena Kossar first started this wonderful event! It was very disappointing and not a little sad to see the evidence of this decline. (Check out additional photographs on our website!)
Let’s hope CARABRAM – in Brampton – is better, since it is also younger! I’ll let you know in the August issue.
This is your Festival…
… is Hamilton’s annual version of a sort of "Caravan". It takes place in the huge empty area in the centre of Gage Park and features a multitude of vendors and food services in booths or tents of varying sizes. One of the largest Food Emporiums was the huge tent of Hamilton’s Germania Club where sales of the delicious sausages, schnitzels and fruit juices enjoyed brisk sales. Many other ethnic groups offered other native cuisine as well, from Belgian waffles to African specialties. This provided a rare opportunity to see and taste something different than the usual daily fare.
The multitude of vendors surrounding the field offered everything from flags from around the world, jewellery, clothing or handcrafted items, native lore and much more. It was almost like a ‘flea market’ out in the open field. Various bands and musicians also provided entertainment on the large stage for the visitors during the day and late into the evening on Tuesday, "Canada Day".
Strawberries are in…
… at Downey’s Farm Market on Heart Lake Road, north of Brampton. But so was a great variety of entertainment geared especially to the young – and young at heart. Dog races by the ‘DogSmart K-9 Team, stage entertainment, a wind power exhibit from Bobcaygeon, balloon magic, jugglers, a band, pony rides, ‘Kritter Korral’ (petting zoo) and a lot of physical equipment like swings, climbing ropes, air cushions etc. were on hand to keep the little ones busy, while the grown-ups shopped at the market or the various booth set up in the fields.
The ‘ice cream saloon’ and the farm market did a land-office business as well as the other convenience-food vendors that offered hot dogs or back-bacon.
One of the main attractions – always well filled with customers - appeared to be the new "Wine Boutique" with Downey’s prize-winning fruit wines that could be sampled and that were also voted ‘best of show’ at the recent Toronto Wine and Cheese Show. It proved that a great many customers also thought that ‘Fruit Wine was Cool’! (See my article in the previous issue!)
Judging by the hundreds of visitors – and the parking on both huge parking areas – proved that a lot of people preferred a visit to Downey’s "Strawberry Festival" to other offered opportunities to celebrate "Canada’s Birthday", and made this visit a family affair and worth repeating, again and again during the rest of the year!
Happy Birthday Canada!
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