Carabram is alive and well…
Since the world cup soccer finals were scheduled for the Sunday of the Carabram weekend, the Hansa Stube upstairs was kept clear for the expected soccer fans and most of the traditional displays were concentrated in the foyer and the great hall.
Along the walls of the hall a plethora of attractions were placed, such as Dirndls on display from Regina’s Dirndl Stube, exquisite woodcarvings by a local artist, exquisite dolls, Christmas type displays and more. A cake counter that was also featuring "Kaiser Schmarren" – a variety of pancake named after the last Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph – had found quite a number of new fans.
Heinz Hachenberg – our resident German "Police Officer"- was pressed into service again to impress potentially rowdy individuals and to help Security to keep them on line. But there were no incidents!
The Weiss Blau Bayern Juniors
To entertain the visitors, the Almrausch Dancers and the "Weiss-Blau Bayern" junior dancers put on an almost seamless display of folk dances. During the ‘Crown Dance’, Henry Lopez – playing an inebriated dancer – put on a wonderfully humorous show to the immense delight of the visitors.
The Euro Connection played background music for the visitors that wanted to dance. Since the hall was mostly pretty full – they kept coming by car and shuttle bus – there was always someone there that appreciated the wonderful and nostalgic tunes from the rich palette of the band’s repertoire.
The food was ‘scrumptious’ as one of the visitors called it – he mentioned that he came mainly because of the "German" food! (He also asked for a double helping of Sauerkraut!)
The weather did not look too promising in the morning and the weather network called for thunderstorms, but that did not stop the hundreds of visitors from attending the annual family picnic – also called the "Anna Picnic" from attending it at the ‘Evening Bell Park’. However, the weather held out except for a few sprinkles of rain, which did not discourage the guests from ‘dancing in the rain’.
Maybe St. Anna held a protective hand over the festivities that are celebrated each year in her honour – close to the 26th of July as decreed by Pope Gregor XIII in 1584. The picnic attracts not only ‘Burgenländer’ but also many members of other ethnic groups who are invited to join the legendary warm and friendly hospitality of the hosts.
After morning mass, celebrated by Father Karl Hoeppe and Pastor Josef Prikosovich at the chapel on the hill atop the park, the guests lined up for lunch in the roomy clubhouse. Schnitzel or sausages – with the obligatory condiments – were offered and consumed in copious quantities.
Kudos to the many volunteers that contributed to the success of this event, the many helpers who had been manning the stoves in the kitchen all morning – preparing for the onslaught of the hungry guests – and kudos also to the ladies auxiliary who had also baked a variety of cakes and cookies that found many lovers among the attendees. Erwin Huber’s "Berliners" (Krapfen) Doughnuts also sold out fast.
The favourite beer? ‘Gösser’, from Austria, of course. I should also mention that all the proceeds – after expenses – go to charity.
Welcoming the guests to the event were the club’s president, Otto Novakovics, Austrian Consul Dr. Karl Schmidt, Pastor Prikosovich and the club’s vice president Roy Perl.
Since this was also the 30th anniversary of the club memorabilia, such as CD’s from the band, was also available including T-shirts, properly emblazoned with the coat of arms and the pertinent message.
Congratulations to the Toronto Burgenländer Klub for their anniversary and another successful event!
I always thought that the Harbourfront Centre was great for all sorts of entertainment until I discovered the Distillery District at 55 Mill Street. It is a multidimensional experience.
This "National Historic Site" was has been transformed into Toronto’s centre for arts, culture and entertainment. The original distillery was founded by William Gooderham and James Worts in 1832 and eventually became the largest distillery in the British Empire. The over forty buildings, sitting in 13 acres in downtown Toronto represent one of the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.
In just the past few years this area has become one of the most romantic and enjoyable destinations in the city and – with European ‘piazza-styled’ areas and cobble stoned streets it is the city’s first ‘pedestrian only’ village and the city’s only historic district. It has become an area associated with creative thinking rich in expression.
The area’s rebirth has been dedicated to promoting arts, culture and entertainment with internationally acclaimed galleries, artists from all segments of the arts spectrum, theatres, cafés, boutique retailers, restaurants, studios, bakeries and a even a farmer’s market on Sundays. It is also the only place where you can take a guided tour of the area while riding a SEGWAY HT (Human Transporter), a really great experience and highly recommended (by me!).
The summer months are filled with everything from music festivals, circuses – such as the Toronto Street Circus Festival on the weekend of the 14th – 16th of July – magicians, buskers, beer tasting and many other enjoyable and pleasurable events. This is also where I encountered group of musicians – the Downtown Dixie band – that played the kind of jazz I last heard in Chicago over 50 years ago.
The ‘Beaches Jazz Festival’ started here – in the Distillery District - on the 21st to 23rd July weekend - along with the ‘Parti-Gras’ Festival and continued in the Beaches area the following weekend with almost 50 bands participating. I concentrated my visit on Kew Gardens – on the 29th of August - and the main stage where bands such as David Virelles, Kush, Jake Langley, Janiva Magness and Café Cubano entertained the huge crowd assembled there, all afternoon. This area was also crowded with a multitude of vendors displaying some great artwork, food and everything from sunglasses to ‘Shiatsu Massages’.
Summertime is also street festival time. Corso Italiano and Salsa on St. Clair is already in the past. What we are looking forward to is the ‘Taste of the Danforth’ (11 to13 August), the ‘Ukrainian Festival’ in the Bloor West Village (25 to 27 August), Ukrainian ZABAVA at Harbourfront and others such as the ‘Taste of the Kingsway’ on the 8th and 9th of September and the ‘Polish Festival on Roncesvalles’ on the 16th and 17th of September.
Another wonderful event took place on the 30th of July on Centre Island. It was the third annual "BrazilFest" – Festival de Verâo – organized by ITABRAS Entertainment Production in Scarborough – and held right by the Ferry Dock at Centre Island, beside the Island Paradise Restaurant.
Antonio Scisci – president and organizer of the festival explained how it all got started. Apparently the first launch of BrasilFest was in Toronto in 2004 at the Sunnyside Beach Café. The response to the event was very successful and attracted about 2000 visitors to this music and dance fest.
Last year the 2nd BrazilFest was held at Centre Island and became an explosion of rhythm, passion and music. Each year it grew in size and prestige and thousands flocked to the event again, this year.
Many Brazilians call Canada home today, many of which live in the GTA. For them, as well as for many visitors the event has become a real carnival in Toronto, with music, happiness and the unique touch of Brazilian friendship for all.
BrazilFest – Festival de Verâo is now considered part of the Toronto list of many great events that stimulates the city and is listed and affiliated with most of Toronto’s cultural links. Even the Art Gallery of Ontario had a contest running for children to draw little pictures and portraits that would later be exhibited at the AGO. And of course many vendors were on the grounds trying to sell – mostly Brazilian – items and souvenirs - with colourful displays predominating.
During the times when no live action was on the stage, Brazilian music was played from records, and the people of all age groups just kept on dancing, mainly the "Sambas". Some of them danced on the dance floor in front of the stage, others in the grassy areas and some even on tables. The rhythm was simply contagious. It was noisy and purely magical!
More Rhythmic Magic…
…this time from Jamaica. Most of it is attributable to the unmistakable sound of the steel drum playing the best Calypso, Tassa, Creole, Reggae, Soca and Latin. But the steel drum isn’t just one instrument. There are alto drums, soprano drums, guitar pans and bass drums. You can tell which one is which by the length of the "skirt," which is what they call the barrel below the drum surface.
This magic is for the ears – but for the eyes there is magic of a different sort. Caribana – now for the 39th time and larger than ever – is a world filled with colour and the diverse flavours of the Caribbean. The over 3.5 km long parade – with 16 masquerade bands, four guest bands and 10 steel bands - wound along the Lakeshore – starting at the CNE at about 11:00 a.m. and going west to Parkside Drive by about 6 p.m., was watched by over a million spectators. The ornate and intricate floats, and the over 5000 elaborately costumed dancers and revellers following them, is a spectacle that must be seen to be believed.
At the Start of Caribana
The conclusion of this Caribbean Carnival and ‘Rastafest’ was the invitation to an outing and get together for the Arts and Cultural Festival on Olympic Island – one of the group of the Toronto Islands – with lots of music, exotic food, face painting for the kids, visual arts, crafts and other entertainment suitable for the whole family, on the following Sunday and Monday from noon to 8:00 p.m. The Toronto Island Ferries provided the transportation.
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