Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Feast For the Soul

The sun shone brightly, beckoning us to step out of doors. Scorchingly hot weather had subsided, taking the humidity with it, but not the pleasant reminder of summer. It was a perfect day to attend a festival and I was not one to pass the opportunity up. So, off to the International Food Festival we went.

Now we have been to the Food Fest before. We have attended pretty much all the major festivals that stop in London over the summer. Some are better than others, but the Food Fest has rides. That makes it a favourite with the girls. Plus, they have barker-style games that are oh so tempting. Who can beat a midway? For my girls, not much.

As for me, I love the fact that we can all order food from around the world and eat it while watching belly dancing. At least that was our entertainment today. It is a beautiful art form, and the girls were enchanted. Not quite enough to get them up to shake their hips with the ladies on stage, but still enough to draw their attention with the colourful costumes and tinkling coins around their waists. And it went well with tacos el pastor, quesadilla, a spring roll, chicken balls with chow mein, pineapple on a stick and juice boxes. Yum.

I have to say though, that this year I was a little disappointed. Every year there is a wide plethora of food to choose from. We can order Thai, Korean, Jamaican, Greek, Ethiopian, Canadian (pizza anyone?) and so much more. But the other part of the festival is the vendors and this year they were sorely lacking. Normally Victoria Park is fairly bursting at the seams with vendors hawking jewellery, t-shirts, dresses, belts, knick-knacks and more. There was that, but at a fraction of the amount that is usually there. Or maybe I just forgot and am thinking that all the festivals were packed with quaint vendors selling instruments, internationally carved wooden statues, sarongs and other chachkies, when really that is more akin to Sunfest? Now that is a festival not to be missed, but sadly this year I shall. Bah!

As we wandered from the food booths, a tinkling sound drew my ear though. I looked around to see what was creating the musical interlude and spied this delightful machine!

Dutch Street Organ

What was it, I wondered, as I watched toddlers rocking back and forth on chubby ankles along with the music. Well, I don't believe I have ever seen one before today, but this incredible instrument is a dutch street organ, owned and operated by Henk and Irene Noordermeer. I dare say, I shall never see one again either, but this fantastic machine is located just up the road in Mount Brydges. Way cool!

As I stood listening to the tunes tinkling, I couldn't resist drawing closer to get a better look at it. The fair maiden in the middle waved her baton to the music and the two damsels at her sides chimed their bells in quite a pretty fashion. Its a shame that I cannot reconstruct the music for you, but let me just say that there were smiles on everyone's faces that walked by.

Scroll on right-hand side 

The closest I can get to reconstructing the music, is to tell you what instruments belted out the merry tunes. This scroll helped me to identify some of the instruments, namely snare drum, cello, violin, trumpet, wood block.

View of Percussion
from side of trailer
In fact, peering around the side, I discovered the percussion section thumping out tunes. No little men in this wagon (a laptop programmed the tunes)!

As I stood gazing at this fabulous instrument, none other then Irene approached me with a smile on her face. I believe she was loving all the attention that her unique street organ was garnering. She freely told me about the construction of it (it was made in Holland and took two years to complete) and how they toured around to local venues to show it off. Watching parents point and smile and children clap with glee was pretty good payment, as far as I could tell.

Before we shuffled off to find some cotton candy, my youngest tugged at me to get my attention. Look at her shoes! Across the crowd, I could see that Henk had an orange pair on himself. Authentic through and through.

Irene's Dutch Clogs

Doesn't that beat all! Thanks for making my day Irene!


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