The smells of Caribbean spices and the sounds of island music filled the air of Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls over the weekend.
The three-day Niagara Caribbean Festival saw vendors selling Caribbean classics from jerk chicken, curries and oxtail, to freshly blended pineapple juice served right out of the fruit.
Vendors came from as far as Toronto to partake in the festival, not long after the Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s Grande Parade on Aug 5.
Brad Worden, a Niagara Falls resident who attended both festivals, said he thinks multicultural events like this are a perfect example of Canadian diversity and how we include and celebrate other cultures when some countries, namely our southern neighbours, are becoming more divided.
“Having these events here in Niagara Falls — being a tourism area — is definitely a big plus for Niagara Falls. It brings more people in, more tourists, drives the economy and also brings diversity of different types of people.”
Yvette Martin, one of the event coordinators, said she wants to see more local participation in future years, with many of the vendors being from out of the city this year.
“I don’t just want this to be bringing Toronto to Niagara Falls. I want this to be an annual event that includes as many vendors and artists as possible.”
She said she plans to make the festival an annual event in the city.
“Being by the Falls adds another element. The water makes you feel like you’re in the Caribbean or something … and hearing the water roar brings another energy to the artists. Playing in Niagara Falls for them is a big WOW.”
The event also included arts and crafts, people dressed in colourful Caribbean costumes, a limbo competition and performances by different Caribbean bands like the Steel Bandits, a steel drum band from Toronto.
The real question though is, will that be with white rice or rice and pea?
Rice and pea, of course.
The event is on until 8 p.m. today (Saturday) and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.