Arilda de Oliveira


Brazilian cultural ambassador.

The WAVE team is ready for summer, sunshine and great fun! In this edition, we interview one of the founders of Itabras, a company which organizes BrazilFest, the largest Brazilian Cultural Festival in Toronto. Considered part of the official events calendar in town, the 7th annual edition of BrazilFest will take place on the 25th of July, at Earlscourt Park, which is at St. Clair Ave W. and Caledonia Rd.  It starts at noon! It will be nine hours of fun, and the best part is it’s all free!

“I began by organizing parties at my friends’ houses.”  

Living in Canada for 22 years, the Mineira executive, Arilda de Oliveira, began her career in the entertainment industry, holding capoeira shows and workshops at the YMCA. She also started a volleyball league for immigrant children, who didn’t have anything to do after school hours. Loving what she does, Arilda is proud to help keep the Brazilian community united, by organizing events. Always aiming to strengthen the relations between Toronto and Brazil, Arilda is a cultural ambassador in the community.

How did you come up with the idea to start Itabras?
Arilda – I founded Itabras with my partner Antonio Scisci, in 1997. The Idea came about because of the lack of Brazilian cultural events in Toronto. Our objective has always been to bring together Brazilian talents and present them to the community.

What do you do exactly?
Arilda –
We have over 20 years experience in the market, planning and producing Brazilian events. Itabras is the leader in this segment. Our team has incredible planning ability and we have specialized professionals. We creatively take care of any situation, whether it be a show, special occasion or corporate event.

What are the main events that Itabras organizes?
Arilda –
The main events that we do are the Toronto International BrazilFest, the Caipirinha Social Club and Brazilian Carnival Fever, the traditional Carnaval club.

What will the new edition of BrazilFest be like?
Arilda –
The festival will feature a total of nine hours of shows. We are still debating some last minute details and receiving show confirmations, especially from those who are coming from outside of Ontario. We are studying the possibility of having various stages spread throughout the park, which will guarantee closer contact with the public. To date, we have the confirmed participation of Marcelo Neves, Carla Dias, DJ Simba, Camila Derise and Banda Bracatum.

How many people do you expect to see at the event?
Arilda –
We hope to have around 15 to 20 thousand people present at BrazilFest 2010. In 2007 and 2008 the event was held on Toronto Island, a marvellous place with an incredible view but, access depended on the ferry and this alienated some of the public. In 2009, we faced some barriers, among them, the garbage strike and this definitely made us change the location of the festival. Earlscourt Park is used to holding events of this size, and, it is a great location, close to the Portuguese, Italian and Brazilian areas.

What typical foods will we find at BrazilFest?
Arilda –
To date, we have confirmed stands that will be selling picanha, rice, salads, chicken coxinha, pastels, corn on the cob, churros, sugar cane juice, popcorn, ice cream, sweets and cotton candy! But of course we will have guaraná and caipirinha!

What would you say to someone who has never been to this event?
Arilda –
BrazilFest is the only event that is able to put the focus on Brazil in the city of Toronto. Before Brazilians didn’t have a reference or a reason to get together. This festival is the perfect program to meet up with other Brazilians, get back to your roots, matar saudades and take pride in your nation. For those who are feeling homesick, the smell of the food will bring back memories. The 25th of July will be a full day of Brazilian smells, tastes and happiness. For non-Brazilians, it will be a one-stop cultural trip to experience the richness and energy of the Brazilian people, through dance, joy and typical Brazilian food. It is a day for our community to get together and celebrate. Participation by all is very important so that we can continue having events as large as this one!