Event review: TaiwanFest 2013

September 1, 2013

Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and one of the many cultures represented in this city is that of Taiwan. As such, the Taiwanese community of Toronto came together to celebrate their local culture and heritage in a three-day event that was organized by the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association, and sponsored by Telus.

This year’s edition of the annual TaiwanFest took place August 23rd to 25th at the Harbourfront Centre, where different aspects of the culture were celebrated.

Kicking off the festival at 6 pm was a spectacular performance on the Redpath Stage by the Tzu Chi Children Choir, with a show entitled “Music of Love and Compassion,” revolving around the central theme of this year’s festival, “Children of the Ocean.”

By nightfall, as the crowd got larger, it was time to start things off officially, with speeches by the organizers, as well as by Senator Tobias Enverga, and MP Olivia Chow. Following the formalities, award-winning conductor Ken Hsieh took over the WestJet Stage with Taiwan’s Amis Kakeng Aboriginal Percussion Group, putting on an intense musical show that blends the sounds of the west with those of the east that left the crowd wanting more.

And come back for more they did, because that was just the beginning of a weekend full of music shows, with gigs by the Lang Hsin Band, a group whose music revolves around aboriginal culture and tribal customs, and by SoundCity, an alternative rock band that put on an audiovisual performance celebrating Taiwan’s movies—among other performances by many other musicians.

But TaiwanFest was not just a collection of music shows. The festival also included many workshops, such as one on traditional Chinese medicine, along with exhibitions and film screenings celebrating Taiwanese art and history. There was also several cooking demonstrations, including one by Cheng-Chung Chen, aka Master Chung, who, keeping with this year’s theme, prepared several seafood dishes that the audience had the opportunity to get a taste of.

In addition to all the festivities, over the three days, Harbourfront Centre’s World Cafe featured many delicacies of traditional Taiwanese cuisine, including hot grass jelly, stinky tofu, and oyster omelette. And for people who wished to take a short break between the many events, there was the Chatime Bubble Tea Lounge, where they could enjoy the world-renowned Taiwanese drink.

TaiwanFest, making sure that all members of the family were included, also featured activities for kids, such as DIY workshops, where they played with clay and made their own origami.