For both those who are Brandon born and those who ended up here, Brandon can be a bit boring. So, when there’s something like the Westman Multicultural Festival going on in town, it’s kind of a big deal. The Westman Multicultural Festival has been running for 15 years. It was previously known as the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival, and is more commonly called the Pavilions. The old favourites included Ukraine, England, Ireland, Scotland, Philippines, Honduras and Métis pavilions with two new additions, India and Mexico.
I’ve fortunately been able to attend the last two years, and I personally find the pavilions that have less attendance more pleasurable to visit. One pavilion last year was so busy that it felt like people were being herded like cattle, while another that wasn’t liquor licenced, had spectacular entertainment and the hosts were genuinely thrilled that have festival-goers arrive.
This year, I was excited to try the Indian food, but after 15-20 minutes waiting outside without the line moving, I decided I valued my toes more than buying dinner. Saturday night temperatures were expected to drop to -43 degrees with the windchill, so I carried on. I expected that as many people I’ve spoken to were stoked for an Indian Pavilion. The Métis Pavilion was less populated, in part I would guess is chalked up to the earlier close (11:00PM vs 2:00AM) and that it was non-liscenced), was fantastic. It was located in the Auditorium on campus, and had food such as bannock, rice pudding, stew and bison burgers. The entertainers were a pleasure to watch, and when Ryan Lepin played, he got people up on stage dancing. There was also cultural displays and Métis lanyards, keychains, etc. for purchase.
After the Métis, we attended the Mexican Pavilion. The Shriners Club has little seating, but I didn’t mind standing to watch the entertainment. Dancers from Cancun were flow in for the festival, which was great to watch. The pico de gallo with guacamole and chips was delicious, and there was also a traditional soup available when I went on Saturday. Although the severe cold can be daunting, making it to the Pavilions is one of the highlights of living in Brandon