Wheaton Hosts Festival of Cultures

Audrey Feitl, Staff Writer

The sound of warm music and pounding drums filled downtown Wheaton on Sunday, Sept. 15, for the Festival of Cultures. More than 30 booths were set up representing countries from all around the world, allowing adults and children to immerse themselves in different cultures and people.

Culture is all around in Wheaton and to celebrate that diversity Wheaton Community Relations Community (WCRC) has brought together people within our community who have rich ethnic ties and allow for the whole community to learn from their stories, art, rituals and activities. “Thirty maybe even 40 cultures are represented,” said Anthony Asta, a member of WCRC, including “Somalia, Liberia, South Sudan and Italy.”

At the festival, food trucks lined the street with ethnic foods as well as frozen treats from Kona Ice truck. Along with plenty of food, there is also live music and performances from a dance group from India, mariachi band and Ethiopian dancers performing the ashenda. One dancer stated, “I just want to show people that in your own community there are people with very unique ways of life.”

Many artists, who create ethnic genre, sell their work to further display the vibrant diversity in a warm community like Wheaton. Workers at the Ten Thousand Villages sold beaded bracelets and necklaces made from a Peruvian nut called the Tagua. One worker explained, “The nut has little purpose, as it’s not edible, however, they have found ways to use it by making jewelry and colorful stones. People don’t realize it’s not plastic.” 

Erica Nelson, member of WCRC, said the purpose of the event is “coming together to celebrate the relations that make a great community.” Those in the community have more opportunities other than the Festival of Cultures to be an active part of the community, there is also Make a Difference Day that is every fourth Saturday in October. In this event the WCRC partners with the People’s Resource Center and collects canned goods to give to the poor in the community.