There is no better time than a summer weekend to get to know your neighbors, especially if their ancestors hail from different parts of the world.
From July 30 –31, Ethnic Fest takes place at Wright Park in Tacoma, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Send your five senses on an international tour as you experience a multitude of cultures and ethnic groups through music, the rhythms of dance, the aromas of different foods and spices, colorful costumes, and arts and crafts.
"Ethnic Fest is the single greatest collection of ethnic and traditional musicians in Pierce County,” said Toby Hanson, leader of the Smilin' Scandinavians, a popular and entertaining band that specializes in traditional Scandinavian and European polkas, schottisches, waltzes, and more.
This year’s live performances, which take place on two stages, feature music and dance with cultural roots in Bali, Korea, Samoa, Mexico, Brazil, Hawaii, Colombia, Japan, the Philippines, and the Middle East, to name a few, but also include America jazz and folk.
In an area called “KidZone!” youngsters can create art, try drumming, and play on inflatable toys. Parents will enjoy shopping for things like pottery, jewelry, ethnic clothing, blown glass and other interesting wares, all made in the Northwest but representing the world.
Information booths connect people with all kinds of helpful community resources. The choices in food, ranging from Asian to Route 66 Pizza, mean plenty for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully, visitors will try something new and broaden their appreciation for other cuisines.
Metro Parks Tacoma launched this festival back in 1986, but the force that has kept it going strong for a quarter of a century is the community itself, a coming together of all kinds of people, perfectly symbolizing the intention of the event. Every year, hundreds of volunteers contribute their time and talents, and generous support from the media, corporations, and the community provide critical financial backing.
“Everyone should come and realize what a gem of a festival it is,” Hanson added. “There is no other place to hear taiko drumming and polkas back-to-back."
Note: You can download free tunes from the Smilin' Scandinavians Podcast here.
For more information visit the Ethnic Fest website or call 253-305-1007. The festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Wright Park is located at Division and I Street in Tacoma.