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Cultures Showcased at International Festival

Saturday’s event included dancers, food and demonstrations at the Civic Center downtown.

Roseville’s inaugural International Festival gave attendees a taste and glimpse into other cultures through food booths, crafts and dance performances.

The event was the brainchild of the Multicultural Youth Group’s directors and founders, Elvie van Kempen and Iva Calhoun, and City Connect International.

“Many of the restaurants you see here at the Tuesday Night Market will be on hand,” Calhoun said prior to the event.  “One of my favorite Filipino dishes that we will showcase is Lumpia, an egg-roll type food that’s just delicious.”

Calhoun describes Lumpia as a dish that can be a vegetarian meal, or Shanghai style, which features meat.

“They add carrots, bean sprouts and green beans,” Calhoun said.  We will also have Thai, Mexican, Peruvian foods and more.”

Sharing a variety of cultures with Roseville residents is important to both women, who have been sharing their native Filipino dances, foods and crafts with area kids and organizations for almost two decades.

“This will be our 13th year taking the group to the state fair,” van Kempen said.  “We want to preserve the cultures and share information with the community, so people can understand why others dress the way they dress, or eat the foods they eat.”

Van Kempen said that when she emigrated from the Philippines as a child, her family had no money. 

“I work hard at running the Multicultural Youth Group, and sometimes ask myself if I’m crazy, but then I remember that if my mom hadn’t emigrated, I would never have had this wonderful life in this country.  I really want to give back,” van Kempen said.

Hundreds of people gave back to the community this Saturday, sharing cultures from many Pacific island nations.

Longganisa, homemade sausage flavored with garlic and tasty spices, khao phat, delicious stir-fried rice, flavored with fresh coconut milk, and bahn churng, aromatic sticky rice stuffed in banana leaves and flavored with meats and pepper were just a few of the dishes served Saturday.

“We’re basically taking you to that country by offering samples of all these experiences,” Calhoun said.

For visitors who may have eaten too much, a Zumba workshop was held to shed some calories.

“Zumba has come here from Miami – it touches on salsa, merengue, cha cha and even swing.  It has bits and pieces of many cultures,” Calhoun said.

The event featured performers every half hour, a multitude of presentations, demonstrations, and a lei-making class for the kids.

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