LACEY - Saint Martin's University was transformed Saturday into a destination for international food and fun as part of Ethnic Celebration, organized for the first time by the City of Lacey.
The longtime fair had been hosted by the City of Olympia for 17 years until it was in jeopardy of going away because of budget cuts, said Jeannette Sieler, a recreation supervisor for Lacey.
“We didn’t want it to go away,” she said.
Exhibitors, food vendors and performers filled the Worthington Center and Marcus Pavilion and by 5 p.m. about 3,000 people had visited the fair, Sieler said.
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Food being served included South Indian, Filipino and Italian, while other booths at the fair enticed visitors to learn more about a country’s culture and language. Some of the busiest were booths hosted by the Japanese, Korean and Chinese students studying at Saint Martin’s.
Maki Endo, 22, of Yokohama, Japan, was working with a group of Japanese students, demonstrating the art of Japanese calligraphy for visitors curious about how their name would be spelled in Japanese, she said. The Japanese language has three alphabets: kanji, hiragana and katakana, Endo said.
Lindy Meulblok and Kayla Manibog, two students from North Thurston High School, each got their first names spelled in Japanese. For Kayla, it was a return to Japan of sorts because she lived in Okinawa for three years, she said.
Not far from the Japan booth were three young women from South Korea – Juyeong “Amy” Jeong, 23; Eunmee “Elly” Kang, 22; and Sori Lee, 21 – who also said they were studying at Saint Martin’s.
In addition to spelling names in the Korean language known as hangeul, they were busy explaining the meaning behind the intricate design of the South Korean flag, or showing visitors how to play a game called “Tuho.”
The game involved trying to throw bundled sticks – similar to chopsticks – into a vase that was about six feet away.
All three said it was their first time to visit the United States. Lee, who is from the South Korean city of Cheong-Ju, said she was amazed at the differ- ent people, food and cult-ure.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/bizblog