In years past, immigrants came to the United States and hurried to blend in—but not anymore, Elk Grove Multicultural Committee Chair Orlando Fuentes said.
"More in the present day, people want to come to America and find their niche," Fuentes said. "People want to hang on to their culture. People want to celebrate it and embrace it, and embrace one another."
Elk Grove will celebrate its diverse population with the first-ever Multicultural Festival on Aug. 25 at . The free festival, which is being planned by the Multicultural Committee and put on by the city, will feature performers, musicians and food from various cultures.
Fuentes said the committee "took the broadest definition of 'multicultural' " possible. Some of the performers will include Azteca dancers, the Capitol Chinese Orchestra, a Hmong performing group, a Mexican folkloric dance group, an oldies and classic rock band, square dancers and more. Click here to view the event schedule.
A Sikh martial arts group will also perform. Fuentes said he's hopeful the committee will be able to find an opening ceremonies speaker who can address , as well as .
"[Those] assassinations aren't representative of the city of Elk Grove," he said. "Quite likely it was a hate crime committed by somebody outside of the community."
Fuentes said planning a new festival was difficult, adding that the committee was "starting from scratch, starting with a blank slate, so to speak, and having to create a festival out of thin air."
He said he's hopeful everyone will find something to enjoy at the event, and encouraged families to bring a blanket and picnic lunch or visit one of the dozen-or-so food vendors organizers hope to have at the event.
"We want everybody to come out and, again, just because you're Europoean or white doesn't mean you don't belong there," he said. "We believe we're embracing all cultures, including what could be called 'mainstream culture.' "
Fuentes, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area who has lived in Elk Grove for 21 years, recalled Irish dancers who performed at his elementary school. He said he was disappointed the committee wasn't able to find a similar group for the Elk Grove event.
Asked which part of the festival he's most excited about, Fuentes rattled off several attractions.
"I kinda wish I could be everywhere because it's all going to be so exciting."
Elk Grove Multicultural Festival
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25
Elk Grove Regional park, 9950 Elk Grove-Florin Rd.
Free admission, free parking
More information is available at http://www.elkgrovecity.org/multicultural-festival/