Sunday, May 26, 2019 was the 21st European Festival Event that was held at the Vancouver Alpen Club for the first time.
Why the Alpen Club? The European Festival began back in 1997 and took place in the Alliance Française de Vancouver. The second year it was held on Granville Island. Then it moved to the Scandinavian Community Centre, where I first got involved. Finally, in 2013, the Festival moved to the Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC where it was held annually until 2017. In 2013, the Swiss were the “Featured Nation” and in 2014, it was a combination of Germany and the Metis.
I was on Facebook in early 2018 and suddenly was shocked to see that the Festival wasn’t taking place at all in May 2018 due to lack of volunteers and lack of unity on the Board. It made me feel sad, even though I haven’t been involved in planning the Festival for a few years. In November, they held a “European Festival Christmas Market” at the Stanley Park Pavilion downtown that I and around 2,000 others attended! Then in early 2019, I saw the notice that they were going to make the decision to keep going or to shut the Eurofest BC Society down forever.
I let them know that I wanted to help with the planning and I asked them what they thought about the Vancouver Alpen Club as a venue. They decided to stay open one more year and they had a private tour of the German Club at 33rd/Victoria and agreed that it would be a good start. expecting only a few countries to be involved.
The 2019 European Festival Event, created with a board of 4 people – Buket (Turkey), Maria (Poland), Barb (Netherlands), Don (Metis), as well as managers, such as Peter (Switzerland), Kecia (Germany), Tanya (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and a surprise graphic designer/event planner volunteer, Kris (Australia). At the end 22 countries participated, 15 vendors in the marketplace and we had great Volunteer Managers, Csilla/Lsazlo (parking/will call), Petar (Silent Auction), Tanya (Ticket Manager), Sophia (MC), Daryl (Tech & Stage Manager), Marianne (Stage Manager), and a few others.
The nice thing to see how many of them were former festivals and had decided to come back to help out. Our goal was to use this Festival to show “Respect” and “Reunite” everyone once again. Each country was given a “country sign” to vote at meetings. Everything was discussed and approved by members. Democracy had come back. Members of the Eurofest BC Society were encouraged to ask questions and to participate in planning.
The 2019 European Festival Event happened on a glorious sunny day on Sunday, May 26, 2019 from 11 am to 6 pm. The earlybirds were there by 7 am and Lorenzo, the Manager of the Vancouver Alpen Club, had coffee, tea and water waiting. The tent had been mostly sponsored and was waiting there in two pieces for the cultural table reps. Round tables were brought from the ballroom to the parking lot and visitors were allowed to eat outside in the sunshine and fresh air. The marketplace was set up with pastry table vendors, trade show vendors and those selling European trinkets and both new and gently used items from Europe.
The Vancouver Alpen Club took care of the food, setting up two stations selling food in the restaurant and the ballroom. They had also sponsored half the venue and also were able to offer a newly emptied storage room, which made clean-up after the event a breeze. The St. Mark’s Church had offered their basement hall for monthly meetings, making them a sponsor, as well.
A second story will talk about the VIP Reception, the Flag Parade and the Official Opening Ceremony.