Thousands of dancers and visitors from across Turtle Island filled the grounds of Ohsweken Speedway this past weekend for the 42nd annual Grand River Champion of Champions Powwow.
The second year at Ohsweken Speedway went off without a hitch after the powwow moved from its former location at Chiefswood Park to the speedway grounds to accommodate its ever-growing crowds.
Parking and traffic control worked like a well-oiled machine the second time around after the first year at the speedway last summer resulted in traffic snarls all along Chiefswood Road.
But the weather cooperated save for a little rain on Sunday and the thousands of spectators and guests were treated to a visual delight of culture and dancing, as well as mouth-watering food and tons of arts and crafts at the dozens of vendor booths.
The Grand River Powwow is often hailed as one of the largest powwows in North America.
The anticipation built when the master of ceremonies announced the veterans would be coming in for the first grand entry on Saturday afternoon which is always led by the head veteran holding an eagle staff.
To hype up the crowd, the mc chanted “pow” and the crowd responded “wow” as the veterans were getting ready to enter the arena.
Young Spirit drum played the music for the grand entry and all were encouraged to remove their headgear in the stands, as is customary for the grand entry.
Walker Stonefish, a veteran from the United States Marine Corps, was the head veteran.
Golden age dancers and Six Nations ambassadors joined the veterans during the Grand Entry with the rest of the competition’s over 400 dancers following.
Dancers filled the arena in every category – traditional, fancy shawl, grass dancers, men’s fancy, jingle dress dancers and tiny tots.
One of the highlights of this year’s powwow was a smoke dance competition, a uniquely Haudenosaunee dance and music style.
A bit of rain unleashed from the skies on Sunday afternoon, causing dancers and crowds to scramble for cover under tents but it was short-lived and soon, the dancers returned to the arena to wrap up the weekend.