Azerbaijan and Jamaica join Carassauga

2008-05-26 07:15:00
Azerbaijan and Jamaica join Carassauga
By: Amit Gossai
May 23, 2008 09:53 PM -
It's referred to as the celebration of cultures and, now in its 23rd year, Carassauga, one of Ontario's largest annual Festival of Cultures, opened its doors tonight with 23 cultural pavilions representing over 40 countries.
Continually growing since 1986, Carassauga added two new pavillions this year —Azerbaijan and Jamaica.
"Carassauga is growing," said Jennifer Bolton, the festival's vice chairperson. "We try to incorporate every ethic community as possible. But the future for Carassauga is for us to amalgamate all the pavilions into one gigantic one."
As guests entered Huron Park Arena, the sounds of Azerbaijani music filled the top of the facility while soft Hawaiian sounds echoed from the bottom.
"We've always had a close relationship with the Turkish Pavilion," said Azerbaijan Pavilion chairperson Ferruh Aslanov. "But our people always wanted a pavilion to call our own, so this year we decided to branch off."
Azerbaijan culture seekers are catered to with homemade kebabs, shawarma and sweets including an Azerbaijani speciality, Gozleme, a crepe with cheese and parsley.
While Akbar Majidov serenades the room with the Tar, an instrument similar to the guitar, traditional costumes, antique rugs and gifts fill the walls.
At the Hawaiian Pavilion, gift stands and displays fill the arena with cool island sounds in the background.
Guests have an array of merchandise available, including coconut bras, grass skirts and, of course, aloha shirts.
"This year we're expecting way more visitors," said Hawaii Pavilion chairperson Mela Lilia Urjarte-Tan, who estimated 14,000 passport punches last year. "Hawaii is well done around the world. When you say aloha, people will answer aloha. It has to be one of the most popular sayings."
With more than 15 countries being represented in the International Pavilion held at Tomken Twin Arena, Bolton says there are high expectations this year, after Carassauga surpassed the 200,000 mark in attendance last year.
"The government funding has really helped us increase awareness around the entire GTA," said Bolton. "It would be nice to hit the 300,000 mark."
Catering to the popular event, which runs tonight through Sunday at various locations across the city, Mississauga Transit will be offering a free shuttle service to and from many of the pavilions.
Other Pavilions taking part include Africa, Armenia, Caribbean, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Guyana, Greece, India, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia and Turkey.
Passports cost $10 and can be purchased at pavilion doors.
Pavilions will be open tonight until midnight, Saturday from 3 p.m.-12 a.m. and Sunday from 1-7 p.m.
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