Courier October Courier - Page 25

The journey to Winnipeg DURING MY VISIT to Winnipeg, Manitoba, this August, I heard a lot about Churchill. Heck, one of the attractions we visited, Assiniboine Park Zoo, even has an exhibit called “The Journey to Churchill.” Apparently, lots of travelers spend a couple of days in Winnipeg before heading up to Churchill to see the polar bears and belugas. While I have no doubt that Churchill is outstanding— clearly taking a ride out onto the tundra with long-time NTA member Frontiers North and doing a whale-watching cruise around the Hudson Bay is bucket-list stuff—I’d caution tour operators about cutting their time in Winnipeg short. You see, there is just too much good stuff to see and do in Manitoba’s capital city. The three-day itinerary was packed with visits to a range of interesting attractions and plenty of cultural experiences that left me feeling as if I’d only scratched the surface. Our group, which also included four Canadian tour opera- tors, was led by two of the friendliest, funniest and most accommodating hosts you could ask for, Sarah Robinson and Michelle Gervais. Sarah is the business development manager for Tourism Winnipeg’s travel trade department, and Michelle is the director of Ô TOURS, a local receptive company. HENDERSON BY PAT HENDERSON Hart Jacob (Folklorama), NTA’s Pat Henderson and Sarah Robinson (Tourism Winnipeg) at Folkorama’s Cuban Pavilion Getting Folk-sy Traditional dance performance at Folklorama’s Irish Pavilion One of the highlights for me was getting to experience Folklorama, which I had written about many times in Courier. The festival, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, showcases the multiethnic heritage of the dozens of cultural groups that call Winnipeg home. More than 30 international cultures are represented in the various pavilions that are spread across the city, and each pavilion offers live music and dance performances, as well as traditional food and drink. Folklorama’s group tour manager, Hart Jacob, was our guide, and he had lined up evening visits to the Cuban and Irish pavil- ions. Both venues were abuzz with activity, and from my per- spective, there was no downside to mojitos and Latin rhythms, and talented river dancers and a large dose of Irish festiveness, at the respective stops. The performances take place three times a night, and the typical group VIP package includes visits to three pavilions. While the festival runs for two weeks each August, Hart says he regularly organizes live performances and meals for groups visiting during other times of the year. In addition to seeing the entertainment at Folklorama, we also took in a production of “MAMMA MIA” at Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage the previous night. I have a soft spot for musicals—thanks, Mom—and, while I’m not a big Abba fan, the show was wonderful. To learn more about tourism product in Ottawa, reach out to Kelly Dean of Ottawa Tourism at kdean@ottawatourism.ca or go to ottawatourism.ca. To learn more about tourism product in Winnipeg, reach out to Sarah Robinson of Winnipeg Tourism at sarah@tourismwinnipeg.com or go to winnipeggroups.com. NTAonline.com 23