Submitted by Jeannette Sieler, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Lacey
Where can you experience the sights, sounds, tastes, colors, cultures, and customs from around the world without purchasing a plane ticket or even spending much on gas? At the Lacey Cultural Celebration right here in Lacey on Saturday, March 2! “Formerly the Ethnic Celebration, we’ve changed the name for a more positive reflection on the event,” s
tates Jeannette Sieler, Recreation Supervisor for the city of Lacey. “As we explore the idea of Cultural instead of Ethnic we can expand the vision of the event in many ways, including exploring our different cultures beyond ethnicity. For example, we have local author Simon Calcavecchia, a former Rugby player that became a quadriplegic after an accident, so in a sense, being disabled or differently abled is a cultural that we can learn from that has nothing to do with where someone is from.”
“This year will see the largest participation ever, offering a wide variety of groups who are excited to share their culture and heritage with each other and with the next generation.” In addition to 2 stages of ongoing dancers, drummers, and bands there are 62 different vendors and resource booths as well as hands-on activities for children. This year, we are bringing back the PASSPORT ACTIVITY for children, they can pick up their passport and collect stamps from the various ‘countries’ at the event and receive a cool prize when they are done!
“We are very excited about some of the groups we have participating this year!” Shares Jordy Beasley, Lacey Parks & Recreation Event Coordinator. “Among the 19 performers one we have missed for the past few years is Danza Azteca Questzalcoatl, a colorful multigenerational dance group. Another crowd favorite is the Filipino Multicultural Dance Group who do the amazing Lion dance each year.”
One of the best things about the event is that it is FREE! Admission, parking, entertainment, and activities are all free. (There is a cost for food and to purchase items from any of the vendors.) The variety of cultures represented in our own community is amazing and the Cultural Celebration allows various groups a chance to dress in their traditional costumes and share dances, songs, and music as they teach them to their children who perform alongside them on the stage or share with others at their group’s booth. To see children proudly wearing elaborate clothing of their ancestors and repeating the dances and songs they have learned from their parents is so exciting and for those that just come to soak in the culture it is a feast of colors, sounds and flavor from all over the world.
For some of the groups that perform at the event it is an educational piece that brings them together, not their own ethnicity, like the River Ridge High School Taiko Ensemble led by instructor John Theine. The group is made up of students that rehearse once a week and have also spent a lot of time actually building the drums they use. They boast a full complement of 15 drums including a Hira Daiko measuring over 5 feet in diameter and have added bamboo instruments as well as Japanese Shakuhachi flutes.
Many other groups are made up of families that embrace their own ethnicity and culture and strive to pass that down to their own children through social activities and gatherings that give them the opportunity to learn dances and songs that they can practice and perform as well as dressing in traditional costumes and showing their pride in their own heritage. Some of these performers include the India South Sound Association and the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Association from Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple. This last group always thrills the crowd with the amazing Lion Dance, will be performing at 12:10pm.
The Cultural Celebration strengthens our community, economy, and individual health. No man is an island. We belong to families, work groups, neighborhoods, a community…This event provides opportunities for us to know one another and have positive contacts with each other. The dancing, crafting, and skills shared at the event are all a part of recreation and enhanced community as well as individual wellbeing.
A variety of groups and businesses help to make the Lacey Cultural Celebration possible including Saint Martin’s University, North Thurston Public Schools, the Nisqually Tribe, Lacey Collision Center, Molina Healthcare, Showcase Magazine, Oly Arts Magazine, NPR Radio, and 94.5 ROXY.