Diversity, unity and love


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Photos by Eoin Devereux

Just over 300 people took to the streets of Neepawa on Saturday, July 21 for the Walking Parade. The event was a major part of the festivities attached to ArtsForward’s Jam Fest.

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

It was a sweet day in Neepawa on Saturday,  July 21 as the 2018 edition of Jam Fest took to the streets.

The outdoor festival was organized by Rochelle Unico, Bernadette Tripon, Rrain Prior and Amanda Naughton-Gale and featured street vendors, an art show and a wide array of musical entertainment. Along with those festivities, two of the events that were quite prominent were the jam tasting competition and walking parade.

For the walking parade, an estimated 300 people converged on the steps of the courthouse building for this show of inclusion within the community. From there, they walked down Mountain Avenue to the ArtsForward building, waving flags and playing the traditional musical instruments of Philippine culture known as the paldong and gangsa.

ArtsForward director of programming Rrain Prior said they were very pleased with the community overall response to this year’s parade.

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Left- Over 300 people took to the streets of Neepawa on Saturday, July 21 for the walking parade.

Right- The street party group arrived at ArtsForward to join the Jam Fest crowd at the conclusion of the parade.

“When we arranged the parade last year, it was put together as a showcase of our community’s diversity and inclusion swept through the streets.  Part of the response though was also a reaction towards a negative incident within the community [The Canada Day graffiti]. This year, it was all focused on positivity, so it was wonderful to see there was still a solid number of participants involved,” Prior emphasized. “We want this to become a legacy of positivity and we feel as though it is.”

To go along with the parade, there was also a massive pot luck dinner that featured roast pigs, salads and a variety of desserts. Prior said as many as 500 people partook in the dinner. She said the spirit of sharing in the air was wonderful to behold, though for next year she hopes to see one slight change.

“Hopefully we get a few more side dishes,” Prior noted with a chuckle. “There were so many people who brought main dishes to share, which was great, but a couple more sides or desserts would probably even things out for next year. But definitely, want to express our gratitude to everyone who was involved. The meal was amazing and distributing the food went quite smoothly this year. We learned a few lessons from last year and were able to get everything accomplished pretty quickly. It ensured everyone was fed and had a good time.”

Another big part of the fun was the jam tasting competition. For this year, 13 quality jams and jellies were up for judgment, with Sidney Poettcker’s chokecherry jam claiming the top prize.

Looking ahead, Prior said the organizers are very optimistic about the future of Jam Fest.

“We want to ensure the day has a legacy of positivity and in just two years, it’s starting to feel that way. We are very thankful to everyone who volunteered on the day and to the sponsors. Settlement Services partnered with us to aid in staging the festivities, so a big shout out to them. All the musical acts were great and well received. The artists and vendor as well. People have been very positive about this and already looking forward to next year.”