25 August, 2022
Festival set to highlight and celebrate cultures
FAMILIES are pulling out their secret recipes, traditional dancers are practising their moves and talented musicians are warming up their vocal cords in preparation for one of Mareeba’s most diverse and spectacular cultural events.
The annual Multicultural Festival is kicking off again this weekend, showcasing the diverse range of nationalities, religions and identities that make up the Mareeba and surrounding communities.
From the canals of Italy to the tropical islands of the Pacific, a little bit of every culture will be showcased at Arnold Park for the free event.
Mary Graham has watched the festival grow in numbers and popularity over the last two decades and is honoured to be involved as this year’s chair of the organising committee.
She says the festival brings to the fore how culturally diverse the Mareeba Shire is and honours the journey people from the across the world made to become a part of the community.
“After World War II, many different people, particularly from Europe, came to settle here and everyone managed to get along, introducing multiculturalism to the area,” she said.
“And now here we are, celebrating the diversity in our region together years later.”
A large majority of people living in Mareeba are Italians, who travelled over after World War II to become a prominent part of the tobacco and other farming industries.
Since the first festival in 1999, Ginetta Avolio has been making her pastas, breads and sweet treats for everyone to enjoy, giving them a taste of true Italian cuisine.
She makes a whopping 65kg worth of freshly-made Italian delicacies which are always a massive hit for visitors to the festival.
“I make my own pastas, bruschetta, bread and fried dough, and we have been making it ever since the festival started,” Ms Avolio said.
“I just really enjoy doing it and events like this are going to die out one day, so we need to keep the spark alight.”
Whilst enjoying the variety of different foods from across the world is a key attraction to the festival, cultural performances representing a number of countries are also a major drawcard.
Keeping their love for traditional dance alive is the Samoan and islander dancers who are currently working at Rock Ridge Farming, Walkamin.
Seasonal workforce coordinator Ashleagh Bergmann has watched the boys continue to connect with culture even a thousand miles away and looks forward to seeing them shine at Saturday’s event.
“We are proud that they have stayed connected with their culture by dancing regularly and showing others what their culture involves,” she said.
“It is going to be lovely to see the groups performing at the festival.”
The iconic Bavarian dancing couple Carol and Albert Peirce from Tableland Bavarian Dancers will be centre stage again this year, captivating their audience through the unique art.
The couple perform traditional dances originating in the hilly regions of Austria and Bavaria including the famous Schuhplattler which was performed in the “Sound of Music”.
Festivities will kick off on 27 August from 10am at Arnold Park, Mareeba, with a parade of the cultures following non-stop entertainment, food and activities until 4pm. Entry is free.