Fusion Fest shows off Surrey’s multicultural fabric

Surrey Fusion Festival

Surrey Fusion Festival. Jon Murray, The Province

STUART DERDEYN
THE PROVINCE

The population of Surrey is 38 per cent South Asian, 18 per cent European, 14 per cent South East Asian and 12 per cent East Asian. That kind of diversity makes such events as the Surrey Fusion Festival an obivous one for the Lower Mainland’s fastest-growing urban area.

City of Surrey cultural liason Bryan Tasaka says the annual celebration, sponsored by Coast Capital Savings, just keeps expanding.

“We estimate around 80,000 to 100,000 over two days with a lot of people cycling through for lunch and then coming back after dinner for the evening concerts,” Tasaka says. “The site at Holland Park was purpose-built to handle that kind of turnaround and the Fusion Festival was the anchor event for the location and has been a total success, celebrating the cultural diversity of Surrey.”

A cultural smorgasbord on the site provides the opportunity to experience customs and traditions at the 35 cultural pavillions on the site, join in family-oriented activities and — most deliciously — sample traditional nosh from 37 different food booths. After getting schooled and fuelled, there is a kaleidoscopic range of live entertainment to choose from, representing the best in artists from the area and beyond its boundaries.

“The goal is to give people an amazing weekend and to let everyone know how Surrey is all about all of these wonderful cultures coming together in the same community,” Tasaka says.

“It’s definitely part of the tagline, the ultimate celebration of music, food and culture.”

Since it’s inception, the Fusion Festival has focused on the new as much as possible. But cultural exchange is all about enduring traditions, too. Among the event roster items that Tasaka is particularly happy to see returning is the First Nations powwow, which gives many who might never get exposure to this unique local ritual a chance to experience it first-hand. The Flavours of Surrey area celebrating the sizeable agricultural industry is another showcase that brings people awareness of where their food comes from. Given the excellent berry harvest this season, it’s a good guess that the cooking stage inside the pavillion will be hopping.

“We get the local chefs like Top Chef Canada 2013 winner Matthew Stowe and White Spot Restuarants’ Chuck Currie creating dishes using local ingredients right onstage,” Tasaka says.

“They both really promote the whole buy local, use local approach that ties in with what the whole area is about.”

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:

The Patullo Bridge is closed on the weekend. This means that the best way to access the festival from across the water is probably via Skytrain. The line stops across the street from the fest site so it couldn’t be easier. As well, there is lots of parking for those who do drive.

sderdeyn@theprovince.com

twitter.com/StuartDerdeyn

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