Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Afternoon in Downtown Chandler: Chandler Multicultural Festival at the Chandler Public Library Courtyard

On this beautiful 70-degree afternoon on the Saturday of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, we were in downtown Chandler for the city's 17th annual Multicultural Festival,

part of the Celebration of Unity, to highlight the cultural diversity of the community through music, dance, art, storytelling and more.

We saw great performances by the Chandler Centennial Choir (top, on the Celebration Stage) and the magnetic Ken Koshio and his taiko drummers on the Unity Stage,

where we also got a chance to enjoy the music of Orquesta Kaliente.

A 2012 Arizona Centennial Designated Event, the festival ran today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the public library courtyard

and featured, in addition to the work performing and visual artists, great food from different cultures, information on sponsors and organizations that promote cultural diversity, along with arts and crafts that represent various cultures.

As it moves into its second century next month, the state of Arizona is more diverse than ever, but the political culture is taking time to catch up with the demographic changes.

These pics were taking at the booth of the Center for Cultural Interchange, which organizes high school exchange, short-term group homestay, intern and trainee, work and travel in the U.S. and study, teaching, work, volunteer, and language programs in over 30 countries around the world.

In addition to the Chandler Centennial Choir (below), other groups that performed on the Celebration Stage included Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli,

the North Indian/Afghan Trio, Cool Hands and Dulcimer Times.

The TelaraƱa Weavers and Spinners were quite amazing to watch. Here's an account of their day from Jenn at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

We've been signed up for the emails from PFLAG Phoenix -- originally Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now updated for more inclusiveness but hard for us oldtimers to remember -- ever since we moved to Arizona the first time in 2000. They are a truly wonderful organization made up of the finest people around.

The LD21 Republicans were just one of the groups represented at the festival. People could also register at another booth from the Maricopa County Recorders office. Did we mention there is a Green Party presidential primary on February 28?

Molly's Tamales seemed to have the biggest lines of all the food stands when we passed by the first time.

There were also people waiting on line for gelato

and frybread, which make a great fusion mashup eating combo.

At the Unity Stage a big crowd, in seats and on the grass, was the audience for an 11 a.m. naturalization ceremony, when about 150 new U.S. citizens were sworn in, and great musical performances. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay to see the traditional Polynesian and Scottish dances of Tia's Royal Islanders and the Maschino Highland Dancers, but we hope we can catch them another time.

The festival had, as part of the Arizona centennial, these posters with interesting information about the state's counties. During the Iowa caucuses we heard a lot about candidates going to all of that state's 99 counties? How come Arizona, with almost twice as many people, gets by with only 15 counties? (Hint: they're a lot bigger.)

There were also posters about Chandler history for its centennial, like this one about N.J. Harris, one of the city's first African-American residents and business owners.

There were a lot of families at the festival, as well as people of all ages as well as all backgrounds.

We grew up in Brooklyn so we've seen bocce ball played all our lives, but we guess this demonstration enlightened the clueless and those people not lucky enough to have lived in Italian neighborhoods.

At the information pavilion by the gazebo, there were prize-winning artworks by kids, like this one, "Panda Family," by a talented third grader, Grace Cao.

And this mural was painted for Dia de los Muertos at Dr. A.J. Park last November by artists like 3-year-old Alvaro Quintana.

Representatives from the Muslim community, the Asian community and others had tables with information and some goodies. Here is the current Miss Indian Arizona, Jaymee Li Moore, from the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, who's a student at Northern Arizona University.

There was a lot to eat, read, watch and listen to at the Chandler Multicultural Festival

and we're very grateful to everyone who put this event together on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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