Saturday is the 18th Ethnic Celebration - and also the first.
The multicultural festival of performances, arts and crafts, kids activities, food and more was a winter favorite on the city of Olympia’s calendar until staffing cuts forced the city to reduce the number of events it organizes.
So this year, the festival will be hosted by the city of Lacey. It has moved five miles east from The Washington Center for the Performing Arts to Saint Martin’s University.
“We thought it was a great event and didn’t want to see it go away,” said Sean Finney, recreation director for Lacey Parks & Recreation.
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Lacey Parks staff had been discussing hosting some kind of multicultural event even before Olympia had to cut the Ethnic Celebration, he said. “It was a perfect opportunity to continue the event,” he said.
“We didn’t want to change too many things. We wanted to keep a similar feel.”
Other than location, the biggest change this year is that there is even more going on — including 27 performing groups instead of 24, and eight food vendors compared to the one that could be accommodated at the Washington Center.
“We have all different types of food,” Finney said. “We’ll have Mexican, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Native American fry bread, German food and Italian street food.” There’ll also be crepes and other European selections.
The event has been a popular one through the years, drawing 2,500 to 3,000 people in most years, said Stephanie Johnson, arts and events manager for the City of Olympia. Even in 2009, when snow was so bad that weather forecasters urged people to stay home, diehard fans showed up.
“That was a slower year,” Johnson said, “but still people braved the weather to come out.”
This is not the Ethnic Celebration’s first move, she pointed out.
“It was at the Olympia Center for a long time and then we moved it to The Washington Center,” she said. “It’s a strong event. It’s gone through various venue changes, but the core has always been about the cultural tradtions that make up our community.”
What: Following the Ethnic Festival, these conversations will offer more opportunities to learn about other cultures.
When: 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Where: Lacey City Hall, 420 College St. S.E., Lacey
More information: www.ci.lacey.wa.us
Monday: Olympia Peace Corps Association
Tuesday: Conversation with the Scots
Wednesday: Olympia’s Sister City, and Musical Instruments of India
What: Now hosted by the city of Lacey, the annual celebration of cultural diversity features music, dance, arts, crafts, foods and more.
When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion and Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. S.E., Lacey
More information: 360-491-0857 or www.ci.lacey.wa.us
Pavilion Stage I
10 a.m. Comerford School of Irish Dance
11:10 a.m. Mas Uda (Middle East/Mediterranean)
12:20 p.m. Vietnamese Lien Hoa Buddhist Youth Association
1:30 p.m. Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers (Tlingit)
2:40 p.m. Ryukya Sokyoku Koyokai (Japan)
3:50 p.m. The Kampuchean Association of Olympia (Cambodia)
5 p.m. River Ridge Taiko Ensemble (Japan)
6:20 p.m. Saint Martin’s University Soranbushi Dancers (World)
Pavilion Stage II
10:35 a.m. India South Sound Association
11:45 a.m. Mukana Marimba (Zimbabwe)
12:55 p.m. Nordic Exposure (Scandinavia)
2:05 p.m. Olympia Highlander Pipe and Drums (Scotland)
3:15 p.m. Juliana & Pava (Russia)
4:25 p.m. Olympia Folk Dance Coop (Israel)
5:35 p.m. Groupon Quetzalcoatl (Aztec)
Conference Center Stage III
10:15 a.m. Monday Ukelele Ohana (Hawaii)
11 a.m. Mountain View Marimba Ensemble (Zimbabwe)
11:45 a.m. Choroloco (Brazil)
12:30 p.m. Wilho Saari (Finland)
1:15 p.m. Roderick Harris (Native American)
2 p.m. Filipino-American Community of South Puget Sound Dancers
2:45 p.m. Vera Veen (India)
3:30 p.m. Our Name is Panama
4:15 p.m. Danish troubadour Flemming Behrend
5 p.m. International Capoeira Angola Foundation (Brazil and Africa)
5:45 p.m. Gaelica (British Isles)
6:30 p.m. Crow Drummers (West Africa)