By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Known for bringing international and national cultures to Rio through the presentation of products, handicrafts, food and entertainment, the Feira da Providência (Providence Fair) returns to Barra da Tijuca’s Riocentro for five consecutive days beginning on November 20th.
This will be the 53rd year of the city’s popular family friendly event. Feira da Providência annually attracts approximately 300,000 visitors and this year will host three hundred vendors in an over 35,000 square meter space again located in Riocentro’s Pavilions 2 and 3 to keep those visitors busy and entertained.
Thirty-six countries and thirteen Brazilian states will be represented by products and handicrafts vendors, including lights from Turkey, pashminas from India, Russian matrioskas, hats from Ecuador, ceramics from Palestine, South African sculptures and baskets from Vietnam.
Eight restaurants will also provide a culinary tour of the world during the fair. Four of the restaurants will feature international foods from Japan, the Middle East, Portugal and Germany while the remaining four will serve up typical Brazilian dishes from the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraiba, Minas Gerais and Bahia.
Upon entering the fair in Pavilion 2, the attendees will find several fashion and decorative home items vendors while in Pavilion 3 there will also be multiple vendors and the aforementioned restaurants.
Additionally, the traditional import market is back again and has expanded since later year with many more available products. Selections this year feature everything needed for special upcoming holiday celebrations including; wines, olive oils, spices, cheeses, chocolates, candy and more.
Also within Pavilion 3, there will be a stage where the cultural attractions, musical and dance groups will perform. Gypsy dancers, Grupo de Dança Rosas de Fogo will open the stage on November 20th at 3PM.
“In our first year we understood and felt what Feira da Providência is about,” Marta Coelho instructor and coordinator of Grupo de Dança Rosas de Fogo told The Rio Times.
“The dedication of the people involved and the organization of the event showed why there have been so many successful years. The experience left us with the feeling like ‘I want more.’ During the performance, the audience cheered at all times, children and adults,” she added.
This year the dancers will add new features to their colorful performance including a caravan and an homage to the gypsy circus. “The Gypsy dance is multicultural with influence of various peoples, said Coelho. “We use belly dance moves and rumba, for example. This relates to the way nomadic Gypsies, learning wherever they go.”
Other performers at the fair include fellow gyspy dancers Grupo de Dança Flora Vieira (November 21st); The Brazilian Dance Company, COMRUA (November 24th); Companhia Cairo (November 21st and 22nd); samba dancers Grupo Gafieiríssima (November 22nd and 24th); and Can Can performances (November 22nd and 23rd).
Feira da Providência began in 1961 when Roman Catholic Archbishop, Dom Hélder Câmara created the fair as a way to help financially support the NGO non-profit, Banco da Providência, which he had founded earlier in 1959.
A large part of the fair’s revenue continues to this day to support the NGO and its social projects which yearly help thousands of family considered at risk. According to organizers, more than 2,000 families were helped by Banco da Providência from the 2012 Feira da Providência revenue.
The fair’s theme this year; “O Ano da Palavra” (“The Word of the Year”) was inspired by the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil earlier this year for the World Youth Day festival which took place in Rio.
What: Feira da Providência
When: November 20th-24th, 12PM-11PM
Where: Riocentro, Pavilions 2 and 3, Av. Salvador Allende 6555, Barra da Tijuca
Tickets: Wednesday to Friday R$14, Saturday and Sunday R$16, half price available for Seniors and students