19 February 2018

Thousands fill Civic for sun-kissed Multicultural Festival

| Ian Bushnell
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Mariachi band.

Photos: Jack Mohr.

Thousand poured into Civic at the weekend in the glorious sunny summer weather to savour the tastes, sounds, and sights of Canberra’s many communities when they came together for the 2018 National Multicultural Festival.

Food is central to the annual celebration of cultural diversity in the capital, and an amazing array of cuisine was on offer, filling the streets with an irresistible fusion of aromas.

Hundreds of stalls sold everything from Spanish paella and South African sausage to Thai noodles and Dutch pancakes.

Celebrity TV chef Poh Ling Yeow shared her love of cooking with festival goers, creating dishes close to her heart and Malaysian heritage.

As well the sound of sizzling food, the festival was treated to music and dance from around the world, with performers resplendent in colourful national costumes.

More than 200 volunteers ensured the festival flowed smoothly.

Local photographer Jack Mohr was on site to capture all the action.

Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival. Performers at Multicultural festival.

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Totally wrong venue for this festival. Thousands crowded into hot paved areas with little shade and almost nowhere to sit and enjoy the entertainment let alone eat. This should be in commonwealth park whre you can enjoy the food and entertainment while having a nice picnic from the available food.
Secondly something needs to be done about the quality and price of the food if it to continue attracting people. I found most of the stalls way overpriced and the quality questionable, how long ago was it made, was it stored properly in the heat, there needs to be food inspectors. I ended up eating in the Canberra centre food court, where we could sit and eat for half the price.
Thirdly, alcohol should be banned from sale. There was no responsible service of alcohol with numerous underage intoxicated people everywhere. My wife was almost knocked to the ground by a group and glebe park was left like a rubbish tip from where the underage congregated.
Also not so sure how successful the festival was on both night there were at least 40 -50 unused marquees?
Do we really need this festival?.Bring back the Canberra festival and food and wine frolick in the park.

Sorry Rob, I heartily disagree with everything you mentioned.

I walked through the festival on my way home on Friday night, spent most of Saturday there, and had lunch on Sunday. While you’re right that there were thousands of people there, I expected that and took it as a marker of the festival’s popularity and hopeful success. I had no trouble finding seating – it did take a little bit of patience, but we even landed a table at lunchtime.

Secondly, because the crowds were so big and the turnover of food so high, I had no concerns about food safety. Everything I had was delicious (special mention to the paella and cannoli), and the prices were what I would expect for market food at a popular event – $10-15 for a large dish. I also did not hear of anyone who contracted food poisoning from questionable food sources.

I disagree that alcohol should be banned. Many reasonable adults enjoy trying a couple of different drinks than they would otherwise find, and I am thoroughly opposed that they should be punished because of an absolute minority. It is the responsibility of ACT Police to act if they need. Over the entire period that I was there, I did not see one person who had drunk to excess; all I saw were happy people enjoying the atmosphere.

The empty tents were used during the day by embassy and community groups. Their displays were very interesting, but they were not obliged to remain past 5pm.

It’s an imperfect event, but I am proud as a Canberran to have it as a part of our annual calendar. I’m sorry that you feel differently.

Capital Retro12:24 pm 19 Feb 18

It certainly was everything you have mentioned and I had an enjoyable time there for a few hours yesterday. There was no trouble getting (free) parking nearby either.
Some of the live performers had a hard time competing with the general noise a lot of which was created by large, diesel powered electricity generators. Where is all that renewable power we are constantly reminded we have in the ACT?

Something that disturbed me was the number of elderly homeless men that were obviously displaced by the festival’s activities. It really brought home the extent of the homelessness problem in Canberra.

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