QUINCY — The weather may have been windier than a truckload of campaign promises, but the first annual Celebration of Cultures in Quincy still drew a good-sized crowd to Heritage Park Saturday. Around 500 people came out for food, art, music and dancing from around the world, organizer Harriet Weber estimated.
One enjoyable way to experience a new culture is by trying its food, and yummy stuff was in abundance. Attendees bought tickets at the entrance to the park to spend at the food booths rather than using cash directly. Pupusas from El Salvador, German sausage and Jalisco-style tacos were popular offerings.
What makes Jalisco tacos different from other tacos? Fidencio Lopez stopped serving them up for a moment to answer.
“Jalisco makes the best tacos...”
“On the planet,” supplied his son Edwin.
“In the universe!” Fidencio finished proudly.
Not far away Janet Van Dienst of Quincy, assisted by some friends from Lynden in northwestern Washington, was serving up cookies and pastries from the Netherlands. Especially popular were her freshly deep-fried olie bollen, which are sort of like donut holes. The name means “oil balls,” which may not sound like the most appetizing of names, but that didn’t seem to deter the line of people waiting to get their hands on some.
Japan and England shared a booth, not for lack of space but because the couple representing those countries are married and have been for 45 years. Beryl Goto, who emigrated from London, served out English trifle while her husband Andy, born in Seattle to Japanese parents, offered up sushi. Beryl made all the food for both of them, they said.
Food wasn’t all that was available. In the barn, various performances were going on including mariachi, Irish step dance, American clogging and classical Kalalaya dancing from India. Meanwhile, Mandy Ottley taught kids to do primitive knitting from Scotland, wrapping yarn around two thick sticks to form rows that could be combined into a blanket, while other craft enthusiasts learned about gyotaku, or Japanese fish painting. The Wanapum tribe brought its Native American Discovery Unit, a large bus with displays of traditional Wanapum culture.
The event replaced the annual Harvest Festival in Quincy, Weber said. For next year, “we’ve already had people come forward and say that they would like to share food or something from their culture.”
“There’s at least 24 distinct countries of origin from people that we know of who are living in Quincy,” she added. “We can’t do them all every year, but highlighting five or six a year might be a good goal.”
Sonia Padron, who was selling food tickets, was gung-ho about the future.
“As soon as we shut this one down we’ll be talking about next year,” she said.