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17th Annual European Festival at Swangard Stadium

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The 17th annual European Festival was held at Swangard Stadium this past weekend. With the spell of sunshine gracing the Lower Mainland over the past week, it was certainly a celebration of culture as well as good weather. There was a variety of festival attendees in-tow from young to the young at heart, an emphasis on the family-friendly culture that the EuroFest BC Society has cultivated in the nature of the festival.

The first day of the festival included entertainment on the Brian Jessel Main Stage that featured groups representing over 14 countries. The main stage was buzzing throughout the day, drawing crowds in front of the stage as well as in the stands. I arrived to the festival just in time to see the dancing groups Kitka and Prolet, representing Bulgaria. In addition to the performances on the main stage and the side Festival Stage, the marketplace served as a great place of exploration for those in attendance. With the FIFA 2014 World Cup coming up, soccer fans could pick up flags, scarves, and other items to represent the team that they are cheering for. As I was walking around the stadium, I noticed that kids were rolling around on almost life-sized stuffed ponies, as one vendor was offering ‘pony rides’ for the duration of 10 minutes. I was a tad envious seeing kids riding around on them.

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If there was one thing I learned quickly about EuroFest during my inaugural visit last year, it was that the food area is consistently full of people with an appetite for the highlights of European culture. The represented countries within the food area each had an item from their culture that served as the most popular option. The Montenegro tent featured burek, a baked, filled pastry made of phyllo and filled with cheese, minced meat, or vegetables. Serbia’s cuisine was represented by ćevapčići, which are small minced meat kebabs. The scent of meat filled the air at Swangard, and there was no shortage of sausages as made clear by the menu at the Germany tent, as provided by Black Forest Grill. Their menu featured delicacies including grilled bratwurst, Bavarian smokies, beef smokies, and pork hock – all with a side of sauerkraut. One of the most important foundations behind EuroFest is the appreciation and the emphasis on the history of European culture. Those in attendance were as enthusiastic to learn about the different European cultures, as those situated at the various booths were willing to teach. As I sat down on the bleachers ahead of the Hey Ocean! performance, I witnessed a spontaneous music session in front of the Russia/Montenegro/Turkey tents next to the main stage. A dance circle emerged and grew, consisting of those dressed in traditional cultural attire and those simply walking by the chaos and wanting to join in. It was warming to see everyone having so much fun and coming together.

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Last but not least, Hey Ocean! played on the main stage at the end of Saturday evening. The band started off with “If I Were A Ship”, which introduced the EuroFest audience to the smooth, crisp vocals of lead singer Ashleigh Ball and the West Coast inspired indie-pop sound of Hey Ocean!. There were a few dedicated fans in attendance and the band captivated and drew a bigger audience as their set progressed. It was a delight to see such a fantastic local band in the outdoor setting of EuroFest, and hopefully this is one tradition that carries on in the years to come.

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Itching for more local celebrations? Don’t miss the 30th Annual Hats Off Day on June 7th and the Mid-Summer Festival on June 21st and 22nd. For other events coming up in Burnaby, be sure to check out the Tourism Burnaby events calendar. You can also check out more photos from the European Festival on our Facebook Page!

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