The Taiwanese Cultural Festival is one of Vancouver's most exciting festivals.
It is truly a mixture of arts, culture, music and sports. And it features both local and international artists.
Name another cultural festival in Vancouver with it's own dragon boat races… Did you say Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival? That's really a dragon boat race with a festival attached to it. The Taiwanese Cultural Festival really stands on its own. Dragon Boat racing was only introduced as a side event 6 years ago. And…. these dragon boat races are special – no where else in Canada will you find a dragon boat race where you have to grab a flag before you cross the finish line. It makes for a very exciting race to watch.
Name another ethnic festival that features internationally known performers… Did you say the SUCCESS fundraiser at GM Place? True but it's not actually a walkabout festival and you would have to pay way more than the $10-$12 to get in. This is like the PNE – but for Taiwanese culture and history. And lots of entertainment in both Mandarin in English languages. This year's Taiwan Festival features Wu Bai & China Blue Concert Tour – only one of two North American stops.
On Saturday morning, I popped into the Taiwanese Festival in between races. I watched part of the opening ceremonies with all the VIP's sitting in the front of the stage. I recognized city councilors Raymond Louie and BC Lee. MLA Raj Chouhan and provincial candidate Gabriel Yui. It was also nice to talk to James Chou, one of the event organizers. The Taiwanese Cultural Festival has always played a big role in getting local politicians to attend. I can't think of any other ethnic festivals that would warrant enough attention in the ethnic community to warrant political parties having their own booths, but here there were information booths set up by the provincial NDP, and the civic COPE and Vision Vancouver parties.
Our dragon boaters always like to go visit the food stalls at the Taiwanese Festival. Dim Sum is available, as well as noodles, sticky rice and curried squid. My friend Dave and I shared shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings and sticky rice. It hit the spot nicely. Usually we recommend to our paddlers not to eat too much greasy food such as hamburgers and fries before racing. But these light foods satisfied the tummy just right.
In the afternoon, I was able to see part of the music performance of Eastern Legends by Chai Found Music Workshop. They have an exciting blend of Chinese traditional music instruments that thye use with rock music stylings and a great energetic dance moves.
I also was lucky to see Orchid Ensemble – one of my favorite cross-cultural fusion music ensembles. They always bring a high level of viturosity to their performances.
After the racing was done, I went back to the exhibit booths where I found Gregor Robertson, former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, and now mayor candidate for Vision Vancouver. Gregor had attended this year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and I've met him a few times over the years. He had never seen a Taiwanese dragon boat before, so I took him down to the dock, just after the last races had finished. I explained how the Taiwanese dragon boat races were different than the other dragon boat races in Vancouver, and how we set up the first flag grabbing demonstration race between city councilor Raymond Louie and former Olympic Gold Medalist Lori Fung. If Gregor is going to be our next Vancouver mayor, it's also important that he understands how dragon boat racing is considered both an iconic and integral part of Vancouver's cultural diversity. We also briefly talked about the threat to False Creek by the accidental sewage dumps caused by the 2010 constuction in South East False Creek, and how it affects recreational boating for Vancouverites.
Here are some of the other featured performances at the Taiwanese Cultural Festival this year.