Lacey Ethnic Celebration 2017

by Adam McKinney for OLY ARTS

Humans, of all animals, are encoded with the unique ability to be as connected or as separated as they choose. In these days, it’s not so easy to differentiate between the two; the internet, among other modes of communication, has enabled us to be more involved with each other, more abreast of every facet of life, than ever before. Still, a tangible sense of connection evades us at times. This sense of distance is allowed to dissipate with events like Lacey’s Ethnic Celebration.

For over 20 years, downtown Olympia hosted the Ethnic Celebration. In 2011, a change of venue was necessitated by budget cuts made by the City of Olympia. Lacey was canny enough to scoop up the festival, and every winter since has seen the Ethnic Celebration coming around. As with the previous years of the festival’s existence, the Lacey Ethnic Celebration will supply a metric ton of arts and performances from across the world.

Across three stages, the Lacey Ethnic Celebration will feature acts that connect us with, not only people of varying origins, but our community’s collective history. Brazilian, Filipino, Irish, Indian, Japanese, Kampuchean, Native American, Scottish and other cultures will be represented, and in doing so, reflect the life we live today. Beyond that, the festival casts a look back at the paths we’ve carved to find our way here.

“Not only are there sights, sounds, and tastes from around the world,” says City of Lacey recreation supervisor Jeannette Sieler, “you can share in your neighbor’s culture through performances, information booths and craft and food vendors. The day will be filled with colorful performances including Tears of Joy Theatre from Portland, Oregon, presenting their full stage show of Coyote Tales, a compilation of two hilarious stories…performed with puppets, masks and costumes inspired by Pacific Northwest Native American art.” That show is at 3 p.m. Stories of the trickster spirit, like the ones presented in Coyote Tales, are another way, the thousands of miles separating us notwithstanding, that we all seem to find the distinct facets of life that bind us. Lacey’s Ethnic Celebration makes that association visceral.

Other groups represented include the 15-strong River Ridge High School Taiko Ensemble (led by John Theine and comprising students who rehearse once a week and build their own drums), the India South Sound Association and the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Association from Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple. “The Lacey Ethnic Celebration is a great opportunity to learn about each other and celebrate together,” says Sieler. “Our three stages are called Heritage, Unity and the World stage, as these words sum up the Ethnic Celebration.” These are values to be lauded more than once per year, but March 11 is one time to do so.

What: Lacey Ethnic Celebration

Where: Saint Martin’s University,
3500 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey

When: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, March 11

How much: free

Learn more: 360-438-2631 | City of Lacey

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