Annual festival celebrates county's diversity through four predominant cultures
On Oct. 21, 2013, the Kids International Discovery (KID) Museum and Fund for Montgomery hosted the World of Montgomery Festival at Westfield Wheaton Plaza to showcase and celebrate Montgomery County's diverse cultural heritages.
This year's festival highlighted the county's largest immigrant populations, namely people from India, Ethiopia, China and El Salvador. Local cultural organizations displayed traditional music, dance, clothing, crafts and food from these cultures in tents and on two performance stages.
Among the tent and stage displays, Sophomore Iman Redi and senior Lidya Tefera exhibited Ethiopian dresses called yehabesha libs at the Ethiopia Tent. Redi summarized the goal of her country's tent. "We're showing Ethiopian culture and history," she said
Various musicians and dancers performed on stage for opening exhibitions. The Kegnet Cultural Group and the Coordination Council of Chinese Americans Association displayed traditional Ethiopian Amharic dance and Dragon Boat exhibitions, respectively. Furthermore, various Indian music and dance academies featured student performances. Samples included the DC Metropolitan Punjabi Arts Academy, Natanjali School of Dance and the Mayur Dance Academy. The El Salvadoran, Banda El Pulgarcito de America concluded the afternoon parade with their marching band and baton dancers.
Interactive activities for children were also available. These included learning the Indian body art of henna and practicing Chinese calligraphy. The Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring sponsored samples of handmade pan pipes and Amerindian instruments were also available for purchase.
Restaurants such as El Boquerón II (Salvadoran), Tandoori Nights (Indian) and East Hollywood Café (Chinese) served traditional dishes to the
public. In addition to sampling authentic cuisines, festival-goers also got the opportunity to view cooking demonstrations and learn the use of spices. Janet Yu, from the Hollywood East Café, demonstrated how to make Northern-style Chinese Dumplings. To the many spectators who felt a bit intimidated by the process, she offered some advice. "You don't need to know how to make dumplings overnight," she said, "I've been making them since I was little. Just keep practicing."
The cooking demonstrations were complemented by a Spice Market where festival-goers could sample spice mixes such as garam masala from India and adobo from the Philippines. Trays of whole spices such as turmeric and cinnamon were available for kids to pick from and grind by hand.
Besides the multicultural celebration, World of Montgomery was also a place for local businesses to sponsor the festival through advertising. Greg TenEyck, the Director of Public Affairs for Safeway, sponsored with a booth for a new Safeway store opening in Wheaton this Friday. "We're opening a new Safeway store this Friday and celebrating Latino food items," he said, "We're here to let folks know [about the opening]."
The afternoon festivities also included addresses from several county and state officials. Keith Holland, from Fund for Montgomery, commended the county for its diversity. "We are a community of over 170 countries of origin. We are a true microcosm of the country," he said. State Senator, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) called the festival a chance to experience the whole world's cultures. "We're lucky to have the world come to us," he said.
Abir Muhuri. Abir is enthusiastic to be one of the Entertainment Editors for Silver Chips Online. When he is not editing stories, watching movies or sampling tasty restaurant menus for Chips, he enjoys listenting to flamenco music, reading and sleeping. More »