CARIBFEST JUBILEE! – Orangeville Founders Day celebrates diversity and community culture

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BY ALYSSA MAHADEO 

It was a gorgeous day just north of the city in the small town of Orangeville, with clear blue skies and the sun beaming down on residents as they gathered on the main street of Broadway to celebrate Orangeville’s Founders Day.

Attendees made up a colourful sea of people coming not only from Orangeville, but neighbouring towns and cities to see what all of the excitement was about this past weekend.

Founders Day is a long-standing tradition in downtown Orangeville, hosted by the city’s residents to celebrate their past, present and future as a community. Throughout the years, Orangeville has grown to accommodate more and more citizens from all over the world, becoming increasingly diverse and incorporating all of the different cultures into the town’s legacy.

Every year, in celebration of Founders Day, residents and businesses in the town come together to put on one of the most exciting and entertaining street festivals in Dufferin County. This amazing and lively street festival includes a wide array of street vendors and performances, with live music, inflatable children’s rides, extended patio services and sidewalk sales for lots of family fun.

In addition to the usual Founder’s Day programming, this year, Orangeville was proud to introduce CaribFest, an inclusion of Caribbean cultures, hosted on Mill Street, alongside a 1000 ft. long Slip’N Slide going all the way down Broadway.

Two local residents of Orangeville, Phil DeWar and Donald Hochoy, inspired CaribFest, with the hope of incorporating the diversity, spirit and culture of the Caribbean diaspora into Orangeville. Both have been residents of Dufferin County for many years, with origins in the lovely island of Jamaica. It is their goal to raise awareness of the rich cultural history and diversity of their region, and also to highlight the exotic flavour profiles through food and drink. Mill Street was converted into a little slice of the Caribbean with samba performances, cooking demonstrations, food vendors and artists displaying their craft. The festival’s intention is to have CaribFest become an integral part of the annual Orangeville Founders Fair Parade. The goal of this event is to promote Caribbean culture, strengthen the cultural and social understandings, and to enrich the future generations of African-Canadians in the heart of Dufferin County.

Throughout the day, visitors were invited to learn about and experience Caribbean culture through savory curry and jerk recipes and spicy sauces that left your mouth watering for more. Patrons enjoyed live samba dance performances by Samba Jess and her troupe of girls from all over the world, as well as live ice-carving demonstrations by Golden Chef, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and a cultural connections fashion show, featuring clothing and fashion designs from local boutiques in downtown Orangeville. There were countless prizes and giveaways encouraging everyone, even the kids, to participate in the fun, beautiful, community oriented environment.

Soulyve Caribbean Restaurant, located on the corner of Mill Street, is owned and operated by Philip Dewar and was overflowing with people looking for a bite to eat, or hoping to sample one of their delicious reggae wraps. Revered as a local celebrity, his restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here!” and “The Marilyn Dennis Show”. Its reputation as an upscale and classy restaurant that serves Caribbean cuisine has attracted many customers from all over the GTA. Recently, they have renovated the front to include a gorgeous outdoor patio for patrons to enjoy during the warm summer months.

Adding to a fun-filled day, the beautiful weather was perfect for trying out this year’s 1000 ft. Urban Slide, set up by 365 Sports. Although the lineup was quite long, people waited for almost two hours just to have the chance at a cool, refreshing slide down Broadway.

DJ Chuck and DJ Rory Grant from Carib101 Radio provided live music and Caribbean vibes and kept the street pumpin’ with sounds of the islands, ensuring it was a street party that people won’t soon forget.

It was a very well organized street festival with the unwavering support of the community behind it. They offered a little something for everyone who came out to enjoy the day, with lots of new experiences that delivered an exceptional sample of the thriving diversity and culture that the Caribbean has to offer.

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