It’s not easy getting an arts festival off the ground. For its second year, the Lakewood Sister Cities ArtsFest intended to bring over performers from Lakewood’s sister city of Bauang in the Philippines — only to find that they couldn’t get visas. But the festival, which saw 600 attendees at its debut last year, will draw on local artists — including those of the Lakewood Filipino community — to make the two-day event this weekend just as fun.
“Art gives life to a city,” said organizer Phil Raschke. “It gives citizens a chance to express themselves through the arts, and gives others the chance to experience it. But in a small city, you have to start on a small scale.”
The festival began last year as a collaboration between arts organizers and the 15-year Sister Cities festival, as a way of attracting bigger crowds. Each year, the Sister Cities committee features a different world city that is sister to Lakewood, and this year it’s Bauang (pronounced “bwong”), Philippines. Although the original performers won’t be coming, the mayor of Bauang will be, along with several other officials.
Meanwhile, the local Filipino community will bring out its best performers to highlight that country’s art forms. The Filipino Community Alliance, a local nonprofit, will have costumed dances drawing on the more Spanish elements of Filipino heritage; while the Filipino Youth Activities drill team will perform the traditional dance “tinikling,” in which costumed dancers clap parallel bamboo sticks together in rhythm while others weave their way in between, getting faster and faster.
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“It’s very colorful and exciting,” says Raschke.
The third element from the Filipino community is a history display board and appearance by the Philippine Scouts Historical Society, who represent the Philippine Scouts unit of the U.S. Army created shortly after the Spanish-American War of the early 1900s. Members will appear in uniform and explain the origins and importance of the Scouts.
“The first Medal of Honor in World War II was given to a Scout whose son now lives in Lakewood,” adds Raschke.
During the festival, the Saturday events will focus on Sister City elements from the Philippines, while Sunday will focus on local arts activities including a juried arts exhibition, which this year includes photography. Prizes will be awarded at 3 p.m. Sunday, as well as a People’s Choice and Committee Choice, new this year.
Other performers include the Northwest Flute Collegium, Fly dance company, Clover Park Community Bells, entertainer Greg Marshall and a ceremony for Lakewood’s Brightest Star award recipient Ken Heath.
There also will be ethnic vendors, food and beverages, a kids’ corner and face painting.
“We have a great lineup of entertainment both days,” Raschke says. “It’s free, and child-friendly too.”