An important Chinese holiday celebrating the end of the autumn harvest will be observed this Saturday at Barkerville Historic Town and Park.
The heritage site, east of Quesnel, will host its annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival on Sept. 3 with activities throughout the day, including evening entertainment at the Theatre Royal and a lantern parade at dusk.
Mid-Autumn Moon festivals have been held in Asia for more than 1,000 years with traditional music, martial art displays, lantern building and the tasting of bean curd or lotus seed cakes shaped to reflect the harvest moon, which according to ancient Chinese astrology is at its brightest and fullest in the middle of the autumn season.
Barkerville celebrates the festival a little earlier than most to share the special day with their summertime guests.
This year’s 22nd Mid-Autumn Moon Festival will feature lion and dragon dances, lantern-making workshops, a special tea ceremony, Chinatown trivia contest, moon cake tasting, celebratory banquets at the Lung Duck Tong restaurant, and a spectacular parade of illuminated paper lanterns that will fill the night sky.
To further celebrate the return of its Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – traditionally one of Barkerville’s most popular special events – the historic town will unveil a new signboard for its Chinatown arch, which reads 加利布唐番地, or “Colony of China in Cariboo,” during the festival’s opening ceremony starting at 12:30 p.m.
According to Dr. Ying Ying Chen, Director of Barkerville’s Chinatown interpretation program, documented archaeological research reveals that Chinese pioneers called the Chinatown they built in Barkerville “唐番地,” or “Colony of China.”
“This uniquely brave naming of Barkerville’s Chinatown as an official Chinese colony was unknown to contemporary European communities and is equally unknown to modern Canadian communities,” said Dr. Chen. “That is, until the uncovering of artifacts by archaeologists in the early 1990s that we are finally able to fully recognize today.”
The Chee Kung Tong building, the oldest ethnic Chinese structure in Canada, was erected by the Hongmen, or Chinese Freemasons, in Barkerville to help Chinese miners adjust to the realities of living so far from home and to act as a hospice of sorts for community members in need. The Chee Kung Tong was declared a National Historic Site in 2009.
“This makes Barkerville a Provincial Heritage Property like no other,” said Stewart Cawood, Barkerville’s Production Manager. “In that, we are also a National Historic Site of Canada with a second National Historic Site inside of it.”
Barkerville itself was declared a National Historic Site in 1924.
For more information about Barkerville’s 2022 Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, visit www.barkerville.ca or phone 1-888-994-3332.
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