Bahai News - Heritage Festival
Festival to honor heritages
Annual gathering celebrates diversity, reaffirms unity
VARIED CULTURES - Antelope Valley residents representing a wide
spectrum of ethnic origins line up behind the American flag at last year's
Heritage Picnic to show that their diversity does not keep them apart.
This year's gathering is slated for Saturday. Valley Press photo by Gene
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press September 8, 2000
By JOANNA PARSONS
Valley Press Staff Writer
LANCASTER - Like the colors of a rainbow, people of different
ethnicities will stand side by side on Saturday and share food, dance
The sixth annual Antelope Valley International Heritage Festival will be
at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lancaster City Park, 43011 10th St. West.
The festival is to learn about other ethnic cultures, Lancaster Mayor
Frank Roberts said.
"These cultures are woven into a great tapestry that leads this great
nation into what it is," he said. "We must learn to embrace these
Farivar Roshanian, a Heritage Committee member, said, "It's not only a
celebration of our diversity, but an affirmation of our unity. That's
the way I see it."
"No matter where you come from ... all human beings have the same hopes
and aspirations," Roshanian continued. He added that those who attend
can see this through the many offerings at the festival, such as the
different cultural dances and foods.
Festivities begin with the Parade of Nations, where participants dress
in attire according to their cultural traditions and march behind the
"It shows we are identifying with our individual heritage, but at the
same time, we're also committed to the American ideal," said Mike
Kirkland, another Heritage Committee member.
During the festival, the winner of the Heritage Essay contest - in which
teens wrote on the subject of positive race relations - will read the
The Heritage Essay contest was run in conjunction with the festival and
is sponsored by the Heritage Committee, the Antelope Valley Human
Relations Task Force and the Antelope Valley Press.
Junior high and high school students submitted essays depicting positive
experiences outside their own immediate circle of ethnicity and
Essay contest winners will be announced at the picnic. Winners will
receive savings bonds of $300 for first place, $225 for second place and
$150 for third place.
In addition, the first-place winner's essay will be published in the
Various booths will be on display at the park as part of the festival,
including those for a children's center, foster care and the Cancer
While the Heritage committee serves up hot dogs, foods from different
cultures will be brought for sampling by local organizations and groups.
Vicki Rae Tomosada, chairperson of the committee, said there will be
Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Indian and soul food, among others.
"It's a smorgasbord of all cultural food brought together in one day,"
People will be able to enjoy cultural dances as well. There will be
African and Native-American dancing, Irish dancers, dancing from the
Japanese group KodamaKai, as well as Middle Eastern dance from the Nissa
Agape Community Church's Men's Choir will sing, and Carlos Reynosa, an
American flute player, will be bringing his 20 flutes to the picnic as
well. The highlight of the event will be Taiko drummers, Mararil said.
The Heritage Festival was put together by the committee six years ago.
The committee, founded by David Hong, was created to find a way to
relieve racial tension in the area. The festival was the answer to this
dilemma, Tomosada said.
"People who come to these festivals say they learn much more - things
they didn't know before," Tomosada added.
"We started with the idea that if we could get the kids to talk to each
other, they can start to embrace each other," Kirkland said.
Today, the picnic's goal is to bring people of all cultures together and
to wipe out stereotypes, Kirkland said.
"What we're fighting is stereotypes," Kirkland said. "You have to get
rid of packaging people.
"The biggest enemy of unity is ignorance," he continued. "I think this
picnic is a perfect example of what happens when people get together and
decide to no longer let ignorance reign."
The Heritage committee is made up of service groups from all over the
Valley. Groups in the committee that are sponsoring the picnic include
Antelope Valley Chinese Association; Sunrise HIVAIDS Coalition, American
Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, Antelope Valley Allied Arts
Association, Democratic Club of the High Desert, Sunrise MCC of the High
Desert, Forum of Responsible United Men, Antelope Valley College's Black
Student Union, The Intertribal Council of the Antelope Valley, the
cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, the Korean American Association, the
Filipino Association, the Bahai faith, Antelope Valley Interfaith Council,
NAACP, Latinos for Social Justice, Bond of Unity Buklod Nq Pagkakaisa,
AV Women's Cultural Association, Indian Society, High Desert Japanese
American Citizens League and the Antelope Valley Black Heritage Council.
©Copyright 2000, Antelope Valley Press
Page last updated/revised 090900
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