Folklorama has been a big part of my life over the years… when I was growing up, my parents tried to make the trip in to Winnipeg at least a couple of times each Folklorama, and we would go to several pavilions in a night. Being a country kid, it was a wonderful chance to be exposed to different cultures and places in the world.
My family is of Belgian descent, and when I was in my teens, one of my brother’s decided to join the dance group at the Belgian Pavilion, so it was through him that I started to volunteer there.
My first task as a volunteer was to clear tables after each show… but once I was old enough, I started to serve beer at the main floor bar and I’ve continued to do so every year. I don’t volunteer there all week, usually just one or two nights… but I love catching up with all of the other volunteers (it is usually the same people every year) and I love getting to meet and talk to the people who attend — even if just for a few minutes. I don’t know… I enjoy serving people, suggesting a Belgian beer to try, etc. It’s good fun!
I was even a Youth Ambassador one year in College (a whole different experience) and I joined the dance group for the last dance of every show. That was the only year that I was there every night, every show (for seven straight days).
The Belgian Pavilion is located at the Belgian Club (on Provencher in St. Boniface). It is kind of an interesting 3-story building (with a Belgian bowling alley in the basement!) and was founded in 1905. The Belgian Club aims to promote and preserve Belgian heritage.