Belly dancers with the Peruvian contingent perform at the Global Village pavilion at St. Matthew’s Cathedral Church during the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival on Friday evening.
(COLIN CORNEAU /BRANDON SUN)
An aromatic combination of Peruvian and Filipino fare wafted through the large kitchen at St. Matthew’s Cathedral Church on Friday evening as Carlos Ecos frantically prepared plate after plate of Causa Peruana — a celebratory dish of Peru’s independence.
Peru is one of two countries debuting at the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival this year, along with Honduras.
"I decided to do something to get engaged with the community and to do something for our culture which is the most important thing," Ecos said while his quick hands placed the spicy chicken-and-pea mixture into a yellow potato dumpling and sprinkled herbs on top.
Ecos, who moved to Brandon from Peru just four months ago, is one of only two people behind Peru’s inaugural year at the festival. Both are on double duty, cooking and putting on a musical performance.
The Global Village generally serves as a venue for organizations to dip their toes into the festival’s waters, to learn, experiment and fundraise, in hopes of hosting a stand-alone pavilion in the future.
While Brandon’s Peruvian population is relatively small, Ecos isn’t deterred from that goal.
"I would like to start one," he said, "of course, but it’s important to me to have more Peruvians here in Brandon.
"People are going to get interested and want to volunteer and maybe next year, that will be the goal."
While Ecos floated across his side of the church kitchen, the other side was taken over by Filipino volunteers — the other half of the Global Village, which is organized by Westman Immigrant Services.
Filipinos have hosted their own pavilion in the past, but a lack of volunteers made it difficult to pull off this year as many are based in Neepawa and other areas outside Brandon, according to Naty Delbridge, chairwoman of the Westman Filipino Community.
"It’s a commitment from them," Delbridge said as a group of costumed children ran up the church stairs in preparation for an on-stage performance.
Delbridge said she has expects the Philippines to once again have a stand-alone pavilion in the future.
This year also marks the first year for the Hondurian pavilion and based on the crowds on Friday night, organizers will be eager to make it a festival staple.
More than 150 people lined out the doors of the Trinity United Church all the way down to a banquet room that only holds about 60.
Organizers said they were expecting the pavilion to be a success, but not a crowd like the one they saw on Friday.
While this year includes some new additions to the multicultural weekend, the ever-popular Irish pavilion was nearly at its 450-person capacity in a Royal Oak Inn & Suites salon.
Around 8 p.m., there was no sign of a line, however, for the Irish party — which draws crowds with its celtic music, Emerald Isle fare and of course Guinness and whiskey. The night was still very young.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 1, 2014