Tacoma’s Wright Park felt like the crossroads of the world Saturday.
The head-bobbing beat of a Caribbean steel drum band carried from one end of the park to the other, mingling with the sinuous strains of a Middle Eastern belly dancing troupe. The smoky aroma of Korean bulgogi beef merged with curry, bratwurst and barbecue.
“What I like about Ethnic Fest is it brings all stripes and colors of people together,” said John Kimani, a Kenyan native selling African baskets and jewelry in a booth on the park’s west side. “We come here and we all look alike. It’s the perfect world that we all want.”
If not perfect, this year’s Ethnic Fest seemed pretty close to it: flawless weather; a kaleidoscopic array of food, music and dance; and a laid-back crowd strolling, eating and people-watching.
“I’ve been coming to Ethnic Fest since its inception, and I love it,” said Marilyn Kimmerling of Tacoma, who was taking advantage of the gathering to promote world peace. “It’s such a lovely occasion for different cultures to meet together and learn from each other.”
Ethnic Fest, now in its 27th year, started at noon Saturday and will continue from noon-7 p.m. Sunday. Three stages have been set up in the downtown park, and shows ranging from Peruvian dance to American gospel change hourly.
For kids, there’s a bounce house, water sprayground, bubble blowing, dancing and crafts.
The festival also is an international shopping bazaar, with an array of crafts, jewelry and clothing from around the world.
“We’ve been coming here since Day 1,” said Kimani, who moved from Africa to the Northwest nearly 40 years ago and is now a leader of the local Kenyan Community Association.
“Look at these people,” he said, indicating the dozen or so festivalgoers studying the baskets, batik fabric and African jewelry he and his family had on display. “It’s not just that they want to buy an item. They are communicating. They are enjoying the beauty and appreciating another culture.”
Seventeen entertainment groups will perform Sunday on Ethnic Fest’s three stages, including Global Heat, Salsa Rosa, Hula Halau O Keala Kua Naniloa Mana Oakamai, Banda Vagos and Kim Archer Band.
Admission is free.Rob Carson: 253-597-8693 email@example.com