Many residents chose to take a trip to Ethiopia to escape the bitter cold yesterday.
Spicy foods, hot coffee and warm smiles greeted visitors at the Shriners Hall in Brandon’s east end as day two of the 10th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival kicked off for the Ethiopian pavilion, which saw 100 visitors pass through the doors in its first hour to enjoy what the Horn of Africa had to offer.
A choice of kay wot beef dish, alisha wot curry dish and a minchet abish beef dish are all served on injera — a traditional piece of thin bread served with almost all meals.
For the vegetarians, a choice of lentils, cabbage and spinach is on the menu.
While visitors enjoyed the oasis from the cold, dancers hit the stage to entertain the crowd.
While the children were the first to break the ice and hit the dance floor, it wasn’t long before the dancers robed in vibrant reds and blues spilled off the stage, and pulled people from the audience into a dance circle.
Even the shyest wallflowers couldn’t resist the pull.
Adding to the African heat was the brewing of Ethiopian coffee. A tradition in social gatherings, white, raw coffee beans are roasted in a pot, before put in water and served with popcorn, the cornerstone of any social visit in Ethiopia.
"When you’ll try it, you’ll never have Timmies again," said 24-year-old Sam Horsa, who’s been in Canada for seven years.
Horsa acted as bartender for the night, offering up African beers including Dragon Fire, Tusker and Castle Lager.
This year marks a return for the pavilion after an absence in last year’s festivities and this is the first year Banchiun Tekel has organized the Ethiopian pavilion.
"I love to do this," she said. "But it is a lot of work." She’s not alone though, with 12 volunteers giving a helping hand with the event.
Tonight, the pavilion will host a fashion show, showing off Ethiopian dresses, tops, kids clothes, bags and other clothing for purchase.
The Ethiopian pavilion continues today starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Shriners Hall at 1110 McTavish Ave. East.
The Métis setup — a festival mainstay — is located at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, one of the biggest pavilion venues in the city.
Today, the Métis schedule is stacked, with continuous on-stage entertainment all day.
That’s including Fiddlefest beginning at 7:15 p.m., which will be the biggest draw for the pavilion.
"All of our fiddlers are going to be on stage, and it’s one of the moments when everyone stops everything and everybody wants to see what’s going on," said Jason Gobeil, pavilion organizer. "It’s really kind of majestic the way it’s presented on stage."
In the lobby of the auditorium, a trading post is open, traditional furs, a teepee and a trappers tent are all set-up for visitors to look with more than just their eyes.
The Métis pavilion has become a homecoming for Métis people in the region, with visitors coming from as far as The Pas for the weekend.
Food is also served throughout the day in the Bannock Barn.
The pavilion continues today starting at 1 p.m.
FIRST NATIONs PAVILION
Over at the Brandon Friendship Centre, the bitter cold wasn’t enough to keep the First Nations pavilion from seeing 200 visitors in its first 90 minutes on Friday.
"We’re really rugged and tough people," said organizer Delvina Kejick.
The pavilion is serving up bison burgers, rice, bread pudding and bannock.
Included in the pavilion is a slew of First Nations artifacts, various fundraisers, and Innuit demonstrations while art covers much of the walls.
Today will see more powwow demonstrations and dancers throughout the day.
"We’re outgrowing our venue, we could have had a larger space … but that will come," Kejick said.
The First Nations pavilion continues today at the Friendship Centre at 205 College Ave.