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Diversity celebrated in Lacey with annual Ethnic Celebration

John Williams, a Tlingit Tribal elder from Hoonah, Alaska, waits backstage before his performance with the Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers on Sagturday during the City of Lacey's annual Ethnic Celebration at Saint Martin's University.
John Williams, a Tlingit Tribal elder from Hoonah, Alaska, waits backstage before his performance with the Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers on Sagturday during the City of Lacey's annual Ethnic Celebration at Saint Martin's University. toverman@theolympian.com

Six years after moving from Olympia to Lacey, the annual Ethnic Celebration remains successful.

The event draws around 3,000 people to Saint Martin’s University, where Thurston County residents of several ethnicities and cultures share food, song and dance.

Jeanette Sieler, a recreation supervisor for Lacey Parks and Recreation, said the main draw is the opportunity to learn about other cultures. The Ethnic Celebration is a way to do that without buying a plane ticket.

“It’s a way for people to travel the world in their own back yard,” Sieler said.

One of the most popular features of this year’s event, she said, were the food demonstrations. Late-morning and early-afternoon exhibitions showed how to make sushi and spring rolls. Those who didn’t make it to the demonstrations could still taste a diverse array of cuisine.

Venders sold paella, tacos, fry bread and more.

“I found myself eating around the globe,” Sieler said.

In addition to the food and music, attendees learned about their heritage.

Ron Bickle, of Belfair, helped families look up their Scottish tartans in a picture-filled book.

He directed those without Scottish heritage to Washington state’s tartan, which features a lot of blue and green.

The green represents evergreen trees, and the blue represents water, he said. Thin bands of yellow represent wheat fields, and black represents the mountains.

“So everybody here has a tartan,” he said.

He encouraged people to wear their tartans on April 6, which is National Tartan Day.

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445, @Amelia_Oly

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