The growth in Cochrane's cultural diversity was on display at the largest Culture Fest yet on Sept. 9.
The 20 cultures were represented and 10 dazzling music performances drew an estimated crowd of over 800 people and the largest contingent of political leaders yet, including Muhammad Yaseen, Alberta's Immigration and Multiculturalism minister.
"To see the performances, the art, the food, it's so amazing, and it brings people together," said Yaseen, attending his first Culture Fest here since being named minister earlier this year.
Kristina Kindree, president of the Cochrane Immigrant Service committee, says they are already receiving inquiries about next year's event.
"We had a lady from Colombia, who did not have a booth here today, but she already put her name in for next year," says Kindree. "We've received some excellent ideas for next year already."
The hospitality display and the good vibe of the event were contagious and informative.
Living in the area for four years now, Brehanu took delight in speaking about his home nation Ethiopia over a cup of fine coffee from the nation, known as the birthplace of one of the most popular beverages in the world.
In Ethiopia, it's 2015 right now, based on their 13-month calendar.
"We're on the 13th month, so it will be a New Year in September, and it's going to turn into 2016," he says with glee.
He points to a chart of 56 letters in the Ethiopian alphabet.
"We keep it because Ethiopia was never colonized. That's why we've been able to keep our culture, our language, and our own unique calendar."
Brehanu came to assist at the display at the last minute, but he's determined to be a more active participant next year.
Performances were provided by the Filipino Canadian Association of Cochrane, Portugal (Portugues Folk Group), India (Punjab’s Bhangra dance & Southern India’s Komal Patil presenting her dance group Madhuban Performing Arts), England’s (The Wooly Buggers), Thailand (Alberta Thai-Canadian Association), Scotland (Wilson School of Highland Dance (WSHD)), Mexico (Amor a Mexico Dance Group), Ukraine, Nepal, and Egypt (Tahteeb dance).
There were displays from England, the Philippines, Mexico, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt, South Korea, Thailand, India, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, the United States, Ethiopia, Australia, Nigeria, Nepal, Japan, and the Stoney Nakoda Nation.