A celebration of the colourful culture of Norfolk’s growing Filipino community brought hundreds of visitors to a summer festival outside Norwich this weekend.

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The Barrio Fiesta, translated as village fair, was arranged by Pinas (Pinoy in Norwich Aksiong Samahang) an organisation established in 2005 to enhance social cohesion and promote healthy living.

The event, held throughout Saturday at East Tuddenham Jubilee Hall, was opened with a proud rendition of the Philippines’ national anthem, before the entertainment continued with traditional folk dancing, a singing competition and a disco into the evening.

But the main attraction was certainly the busy hubbub of food stalls, selling every imaginable Filipino delicacy – with spicy curries, meat stews, aromatic noodles, and exotic fish dishes reflecting both the Chinese culinary influence and Spanish colonial history of the country.

There are estimated to be about 5,000 Filipinos living in Norfolk, with many of the more recent arrivals working at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as the result of an NHS recruitment drive.

The festival was arranged partly to allow this growing community to honour their own traditions and meet up with others who had made the decision to live and work in Britain.

But equally important was the desire to share the Filipino culture and sense of fun with the other nationalities who were welcomed to join the festivities.

Among the more recent newcomers is RJ Anajao, who works as a theatre practitioner at the N&N hospital and helped fellow NHS worker Ellie Bailon with the “Master of Ceremonies” duties for the festival.

He said: “The Filipino community is getting bigger and bigger here in East Anglia, so we wanted to do our own festive event. It is an event where all the Filipino people in Norwich and Norfolk can share our ideas and enjoy each other’s company.

Ellie added: “We want to show to other nationalities, who are residents in Norwich, our culture and how we share our traditions, our cultures, and, most importantly, our food!

“In the Philippines, it is normally to celebrate a saint, but here today it is a just a big summer festival.”

Other trade stands included craft stalls and businesses offering properties for sale in the Philippines.

The inaugural Barrio Fiesta was held at the Norfolk Showground in Costessey last year.

Pinas vice-president Tess Ward, who has lived in Norfolk since 1994, said: “We want to celebrate and to share this day with everybody. The purpose is to be able to taste the difference of our Filipino cuisine, and for everyone to see the programmes we have with the singing and dancing from the olden days.”

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