It’s that time of year again! June 18 marks the start of this year’s FIESTA WEEK! Supported by the Oshawa Folk Arts Council (OFAC), Fiesta Week celebrates the rich and diverse cultures that Oshawa has to offer. Come one, come all, to the 49th annual Fiesta Week kickoff event, which includes a free concert at Memorial Park (110 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa). From noon to 6 p.m., check out the music of GT Harris & The Gunslingers, “a rockin’ country, honky-tonkin’ band” perfect for Father’s Day. The event will also feature a variety of vendors, food trucks and more!
For those who have never participated in Oshawa's Fiesta Week, this event provides an opportunity to visit several diverse pavilions within the city and immerse yourself in the music, food, dance and culture that makes each location unique and special. Be sure to check out the full schedule and plan which pavilions you want to see first! Note that most pavilions are accessible. There will be cabbage rolls, pretzels, schnitzel, polpette, dancing, and a deep sense of community. For example, Club Carib started in Oshawa in 1966 as a place for Caribbean people to gather. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the dancing, costumes, and musical stylings of the Oshawa Sounds of Steel drummers. Club Carib boasts that “many financial donations have been given to various charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society of Durham, the Canadian Red Cross, Cancer Society and Sickle Cell organizations. Youth of Oshawa and the GTA have benefitted from scholarships presented to students over the years.”
Similarly, be sure to check out the Northern Portugal Pavilion. Founded in 1983, “the heartbeat of Durham’s Portuguese community” is also a pillar of the Oshawa community. Members “hold various fundraisers throughout the year to help local causes – specifically the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre and our yearly Simcoe Hall Toy Drive.”
It is an especially important time to support the Ukrainian Lviv Pavilion and enjoy the levity of some accordion music. Showing care, understanding, and encouragement to our communities next door is a strength that Oshawa displays regularly, and this week should be no exception. As many of us yearn for the prosperity of our home countries, we also do what we can here in Oshawa to support our fellow communities.
These longstanding cultural groups enrich the fabric of the broader Oshawa community. Show support by visiting their pavilions and embracing our neighbours.
As Tanya Lushney, President of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council, said, “The heart of Fiesta Week is the volunteers. The event is run SOLELY on the dedication of our Member Clubs and the hard work of the volunteers that sit on the board of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council. While the City of Oshawa is a great supporter of Fiesta Week, the festival is run completely by the dedication of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council, an organization run by volunteers. Many of us have been participating in Fiesta Week since we were much younger, and we are striving to keep the traditions alive for the next generation, which is so important to us.” What a show of dedication.
Be sure to bring cash, as most vendors will be accepting cash for the week. And don’t forget to purchase your passports, which range from $5 to $10 and can be purchased on June 18 in Memorial Park or at any participating Pavilion.
Fiesta Week 2023, on June 18 to 24, is shaping up to be a celebration of the differences that make us unique, strong, and worth showing off. Perhaps the more we gather in the streets and learn about each other, the more we can weave harmonious tapestries of togetherness and recognition.