Iterview with Pierre Urquhart, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of the Saint-Sauveur Valley. For five years now, a Cuban Festival has been held at the picturesque village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, located at 45 km of Montreal, in the province of Québec.
CubaPLUS: How did you have the idea of organizing a Cuban Party at Saint-Sauveur or was it someone else's idea?
Pierre Urquhart: When I started traveling around America, one of the countries I visited was Cuba. My relation with that island dates back some 10 years. At a certain moment, marveled by its cultural wealth and the fascination it causes in the Quebecois people, I met Mr. Jorge Álvarez, former director of the Cuba Tourism Office in Montreal. It was the start of an uninterrupted collaboration. At the beginning, it was about organizing music shows at Saint-Sauveur. Then, the original idea evolved in scope and quality through the years in the way that today we can say that the Cuban Party, at the dawn of its 6th edition, reaches the category of a multidisciplinary festival.
What are the artistic manifestations you imply with this?
Music keeps having a preferential place among the other manifestations within the party. I do recall the performances of some Cuban bands such as Los Corales and Moncada. On the other hand, other artistic expressions as photography, painting, craft and dance, are starting to invade the Georges Fillion Park, an outdoor place where every year the event takes place.
In your opinion, what is the importance of this Cuban Party? What are its goals?
The people in Canada are increasingly interested in the Cuba phenomenon. Then, the Cuban Party contributes to the growing presence of that country in North America. Cuban music makes visitors coming each year to swim in the magic of its vast repertoire.
The objective of this party is to make the scale and high calibre of Cuban artists known. Even when Cuba has a great importance in the world political stage, its artists are unrecognized and sometimes forgotten.
Can you describe us the typical days of the party?
At the end of August and taking advantage of the long weekend of Labour Day, the Cuban Party takes place in the valley of Saint Sauveur. On Friday is the VIP evening where all collaborators, exhibitors and sponsors - Lotto-Quebec, Tourist office from Cuba in Montreal, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of the Valley of Saint-Sauveur gather. For three days -Saturday, Sunday and Monday - activities stir the crowds of guests. We start in the afternoon and end at around 10 at night. People participate in dance lessons, in a raffle for trips to Cuba, in the sales of cultural products and in an exclusive Rum-Cigar evening, among other activities.
When will the next event take place? Which are the novelties for the sixth edition of the Cuban party?
This summer. It will take place from August 30 to September 2. We are working in developing and idea that will make the front page of newspapers. We plan to dedicate each year to a different region of Cuba. That way, we will be able to say that never Cuban culture has been better served than in this richer, more diversified and organic program.