By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 52nd edition of Feira da Providência (Providence Fair) opens at Barra da Tijuca’s Riocentro on December 5th and will for five consecutive days showcase products, handicrafts, entertainment and foods collectively representative of 38 countries and thirteen Brazilian states.
Created in 1961 by Roman Catholic Archbishop, Dom Hélder Câmara, the Feira da Providência began as a way to help financially support the NGO non-profit, Banco da Providência, which Câmara founded in 1959.
“When D. Hélder created the Feira da Providência, he was actually a visionary, because even today it is the largest source of income for the projects of the Banco da Providência,” said Marina Barros, General Director of Banco da Providência.
“It’s the revenue of the fair that secures a good part of our activities for the next year. The projects that benefit are: working towards the training and empowerment of mothers in a situation of extreme poverty, graduates of the penitentiary system and the homeless, among others.”
The giant fair will spread throughout Riocentro’s second and third pavilions in segmented specialty areas. Returning this year is the popular Imported Markets section with more than a thousand specially priced imported goods.
The culinary area will also return featuring foods from both international restaurants including Italian, Portuguese and German, and national cuisine from the states of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Sul.
A family friendly event, the fair also offers educational areas and in the third pavilion, an entertainment park complete with toys and activities for children including “Eco Adventure” and “Radical Golf”.
“I was pretty young, seven or eight, when I first went to the Feira da Providência,” Niterói teacher, Andrea Wells told The Rio Times. “I thought it was very interesting with all the booths from different countries. I had a chance to taste their foods and see their arts and crafts.”
This year’s theme for the fair is “Rio is Celebrating” and the celebration comes after the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this year and in anticipation of the upcoming international events, including next year’s World Youth Day (WYD), the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
Enhancing the celebratory mood at the fair, confirmed entertainers include everything from comedians to a musical review of Moulin Rouge. Grupo Tarantolato, an Italian themed dance troupe, performs on December 9th along with a group from Rio Pandeiro, a drumming school.
Studio de Danças Rosa de Fogo, a group of belly dancers, will perform on the opening day of the fair at 3pm. More information about scheduled entertainers is available here.
Marina Barros summed up the importance of the fair to Banco da Providência and the community, by saying: “The simple act of buying a product at the Fair, paying for an entry, makes a difference to the lives of thousands of people who are helped by us with these funds raised through our event.”
What: Feira da Providência 2012
When: Wednesday, December 5th to Sunday, December 9th
Where: Riocentro Pavilions 2 and 3
Av. Salvador Allende, 6555 , Barra da Tijuca
Price: Full: R$14, Half: R$7, free entrance for children shorter than 1 meter