Tamworth celebrates multiculturalism at Fiesta La Peel | Photos, Video

CULTURAL FEAST: A lion dancer entertains the crowd at Tamworth's biggest ever Fiesta La Peel. Photo: Peter Hardin 151016PHG013

CULTURAL FEAST: A lion dancer entertains the crowd at Tamworth's biggest ever Fiesta La Peel. Photo: Peter Hardin 151016PHG013

Culture feast on the menu in Tamworth

“We come from places that never shut down, we call Tamworth home.”

It was the phrase emblazoned across banners that welcomed thousands of residents who converged on Tamworth’s main street for its largest multicultural festival on Saturday night. 

The words spoke volumes of the city’s new multicultural face, after Tamworth Regional Council made the decision last week to accept refugees under the Safe Haven Enterprise Visas.

In a sign of the times, Fiesta La Peel saw dozens of stallholders line either side of Peel Street to showcase the food, art, dance, language and traditional dress of their birth country as thousands of residents lapped up the myriad of cultures that define our city.

In an explosion of colour, the street came alive with lion dancers, belly dancers, interactive drumming, art and craft workshops and food from almost every pocket of the world. 

Lei and wreath-making workshops, Tai chi demonstrations and other street entertainment were also on the menu.

Multicultural Tamworth chairman Eddie Whitham said it was the most successful festival yet.

“It was overwhelming,” he said.

“We ran out of food and people just kept turning up, turning up and turning up. It can’t get any better than that.”

While the cuisine proved a popular hit with many stalls selling out before night fell, Fiesta La Peel was more about people from different countries coming together to celebrate the cultures that make up our region. 

Mr Whitham believed it was testament to the city being more welcoming than its past.

“It would be much bigger than last year,” he said.

“Overall, it was just amazing. The proof was in the pudding. 

“This, to me, was an amazing thing. (Everyone) had a great time.”

Countries represented at the festival included Australia, Africa, UK, India, Fiji, Lebanon, Thailand, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Philippines, Madagascar, Hungary, Kenya, Nepal, Botswana, China, Indonesia, Korea, Laos and Bangladesh.

Tamworth Regional Council worked with Multicultural Tamworth and Northern Settlement Services to deliver the event.

Locals eat way around globe

SO HUNGRY was the city for new and exciting cuisines that food stalls at Fiesta La Peel were sold out before dark. 

Tamworth’s multicultural street festival saw thousands devour foods on offer from countries right across the world as stallholders offered everything from Hungarian chimney cakes to Thai fish cakes. 

Among the stallholders was Gareth Lamond, who sold 170 Hungarian chimney cakes during the festival. 

The Narrabri-based surveyor, who bought Kurtosh Kings in July to offer the sweet pastry desserts to the region, made his first appearance at Fiesta La Peel on Saturday.

“It was incredible,” he said.

“We sold 170 of them. We were just flat out the whole time.”

Thai, French, Laos and Indian were among the other countries serving up mouth-watering dishes. 

While locals bought up big on the food front, other stalls also capitalised on the record turnout.

“We had a guy selling Turkish plates, someone selling Chinese (handiwork) and they had a ball,” Multicultural Tamworth chairman Eddie Whitham said.

Tamworth’s first Asian grocery store opens

TAMWORTH has welcomed its first Asian grocery store as it made its debut at Fiesta La Peel on Saturday afternoon. 

VNA Supermarket made history when it opened its doors last month as the city’s first Asian grocery store. 

The Peel Street business cemented its popularity in the city when it offered up homemade Asian delicacies at Tamworth’s largest-ever multicultural street festival.

Employee Mark Woody said there was a dire need to offer the large Asian population living locally a slice of home. 

“We got sick of driving to Sydney and had a lot of people saying they don’t want to drive to Sydney or Brisbane (to buy supplies) so we decided to open,” Mr Woody said.

“Business is going very good.”

The store sells all-Asian produce, as well as fresh Asian vegetables on the weekends.

Staff used products from the store to create spring rolls and fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls to sell at Fiesta. 

“We were very busy,” Mr Woody said.

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