At a time when plans for international travel are on hold, the City of Lacey is continuing to provide ways for residents to safely share in each other’s culture and heritage. An annual tradition, the Lacey Cultural Celebration is going virtual this year to bring the community together on Saturday, March 27.
Lacey residents are not only connected through common city limits, but also through a diverse community. And, during the Lacey Virtual Cultural Celebration, attendees can learn about a range of cultures and customs that originate from regions across the globe, from Southeast Asia and West Africa to Scandinavia, thanks to the robust lineup of online performances, demonstrations, and showcases.
A longstanding event for the City of Lacey, the Lacey Cultural Celebration has historically been a gathering place for thousands of attendees to experience and learn more about diverse food, art, and music with fellow South Sound residents. A team effort, the Celebration welcomes community groups, dance teams, music ensembles, visual artists, and multigenerational families to share in their cultural customs through performances, demonstrations, information booths, art showcases, and more.
“The Lacey Cultural Celebration is a community event that brings people together to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, colors, cultures, and customs from around the world – right in their own backyard,” explains Jeannette Sieler, a recreation supervisor for the City of Lacey. “Visitors can interact with a wide variety of groups who are excited to share their culture and heritage with each other and with the next generation.”
Although large crowds cannot gather in a traditional sense, due to COVID-19 mandates, the City of Lacey has decided to continue this year’s celebration in a virtual format. Transforming many of the celebration’s traditional events into an online format, Sieler hopes it will help community members learn more about one another and foster connections along the way.
“My passion is providing events for the community and bringing people together, any way I can,” says Sieler. “This is a well-established event that can also work well in a virtual format. It give us a chance to still enjoy this event, when we aren’t able to have large gatherings. I think it’s even more important now that we come together to learn about each other. Not only about our differences, but what we have in common.
On Saturday, March 27, the Lacey Virtual Cultural Celebration, will closely reflect the layout and schedule of an in-person event. Throughout the day-long festival, attendees can watch a range of virtual performances, demonstrations, and even play some interactive games. They can also check out booths from cultural groups and local vendors.
Each activity will have an interactive component, including the virtual booths, where attendees will be able to view both live and pre-recorded content. They will also have the chance to chat with booth hosts and vendors and ask questions throughout the event.
Also on the menu is a celebration of the diverse cuisine available in the South Sound. Working with local chefs, virtual culinary demonstrations will take place throughout the day. In addition, select local restaurants will offer specials and a variety of food trucks will be set up at Huntamer Park during Saturday’s event hours.
With the help of Pacific Stage, local performance groups have safely recorded full-length dance and music performances that attendees can view throughout the day on March 27. For those interested in geography and the world, the Cultural Celebration will also host several interactive games on a remote learning app, Kahoot. Attendees, both young and young at heart, can answer trivia questions and even win prizes!
In a year of virtual activities and socially distanced events, Sieler and the City of Lacey team hopes to make the Lacey Virtual Cultural Celebration an immersive, educational, and fun experience for local residents and families. Even more exciting is how the virtual format allows people from around the country – and, even the world – to join in and connect! Even when social distancing guidelines are lifted, Sieler anticipates the City will continue to incorporate virtual elements into future events to make them more accessible for all.
“It will be a unique experience,” says Sieler. “I know we are all tired of screens, but with this format allowing for interaction and connection, it is truly a way to bring the world together as we share our cultures and learn how we are different, but more importantly how much we have in common. Plus, it will be fun!”
The Lacey Virtual Cultural Celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 27. The celebration will be free to attend and a comprehensive schedule of events will be available online. The event will remain online until April 27 in an ‘on demand’ format so people can continue to explore and celebrate. To learn more about the Virtual Cultural Celebration and how to participate, visit the City of Lacey website.