Taiwanese Cultural Festival 2007 – lots of fun, food and frenzy
Lots of people down at the reconfigured Plaza of Nations for the Taiwanese Cultural Festival this year. The roof over the plaza was taken down so there are tents set up along the food and display concourse, but while the main stage has its own roof, the plaza does not. The site is also slightly smaller due to two reasons: construction along the West side to the old Mavericks/Aqua restaurant; and a gate set up for the seawalll – I guess TCF didn't want to pay extra money to close off the seawall. Some of our paddlers almost got hit by bicycles crossing over to the dragon boat marshalling area. It's certainly a sad reflection of the dragon boat boom times when the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival had the whole site throughout the 1990's. But the TCF has a very intense pedestrian and activity level with lots and lots of vendors.
After our way to our 2nd race of the day for the Gung Haggis dragon boat team, the opening ceremonies were just beginning. I bumped into Vancouver city councillor Raymond Louie, who is the honourary chair for the Taiwanese Cultural Festival. In 2003, Louie helped assist the Festival through Ports Vancouver, as 6 Taiwanese dragon boats were donated to the City of Vancouver, arriving only 10 days before the races were to begin. After unpacking, inspecting and assembling the boats… 2 boats were put in the water on Thursday night, and on Friday morning the first demonstration flag grabbing Taiwanese dragon boat race was held in Canada. Raymond Louie and Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung were the flag grabbers. Raymond expressed sympathy for the wheelie-walker that I am now using because of my strained back muscles, and gave words of support for our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.
After our races, the opening ceremonies had just finished. MLA Jenny Kwan saw me and came over to say hello. Her young daughter was jumping up and down, excited because she wanted to get some food at the festival. I talked with city councillors Kim Capri and BC Lee, and was able to suggest some mediation for the civic strike before Kim had to leave. I also suggested to BC that the NPA should start up a dragon boat team, after he said that he hopes the civic strike will end soon in the best way possible.
Mayor Sam Sullivan was there too. After explaining to him that my wheelie-walker was necessary after I had hurt my back while doing a water run on strike duty, he named me honourary disabled. We talked briefly about his injury and what kind of pain he still has, and we both hoped that the strike should end soon.
After our third race… the all harmonica band – Bossa Nova, was playing. Very cool sounds… I hadn't heard the bass harmonica before!
in the vendor area, I saw my friend Meena Wong (my honourary sister!) who had organized the booth for the Western Wilderness Committee, and also brought in the Formosa Farm – whose organic blueberry farm is threatened by highway development in Pitt Meadows.