Calgary's Latin Fiestaval makes comeback after 2-year pandemic hiatus

·2 min read
Calgary's Fiestaval Latin Festival runs until Sunday at the Olympic Plaza. (Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook - image credit)
Calgary's Fiestaval Latin Festival runs until Sunday at the Olympic Plaza. (Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook - image credit)

The Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary is abuzz as the Fiestaval Latin Festival returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

The festival, which runs until Sunday, features 32 food vendors and hundreds of performers from Calgary and around the world, according to founder Christian Greiffenstein.

"It has been quite a break and everybody is excited to get going," he said.

This is the festival's 13th year, according to Greiffenstein. He said an important purpose of the annual event is to break negative stereotypes around Latin American cultures and countries.

"It's very important for everybody involved in our society … to showcase our culture, to have that cultural pride and try to help people realize that, you know, Latin America is not only what people hear on the news," said Greiffenstein.

Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook
Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook

The festival is a special time for the Latin community in Calgary, especially those who aren't able to travel home often, Greiffenstein said.

"They want to be back home at least for a weekend,"  he said.

The festival features vendors from several Latin American countries, Greiffenstein said, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile and more. Performances range from mariachi bands to local and international dance groups.

Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook
Fiestaval Latin Festival/Facebook

'Back to the stage'

Pamela Ordinola is a board member and the events coordinator of Calgary's Peruvian Rhythms Society, a non-profit organization that promotes Peruvian culture and history through dance and workshops.

Ordinola and other dancers from the society will be performing at Fiestaval on Saturday afternoon.

She said festivals like this one are important to showcase local Latin communities in Calgary.

"It's always something neat to learn from different cultures," she said.

Submitted by Pamela Ordinola
Submitted by Pamela Ordinola

Ordinola said it's nice to be performing again after COVID-19 prevented the Rhythms Society from its regular practices for two years.

"We never lost hope that we would be back to the stage," she said.

Ordinola said the Peruvian Rhythms Society is run entirely by volunteers, and anyone is welcome to join and learn Peruvian dances.

There's also plenty of dance opportunities at Fiestaval. Greiffenstein said there's free salsa dance lessons every morning of the festival.

The festival is family-friendly, he added, and there's a large area dedicated for kids.

Fiestaval is free for all to attend.

  • LISTEN | Calgary Fiestaval

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener

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