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The cultures of Cranbrook

An upcoming festival in Cranbrook will give you the chance to experience the cultures of the world without stepping foot on an airplane.

The first Cranbrook Multicultural Festival, a free family event, will be held on Saturday, August 16 in Rotary Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's like experiencing a foreign culture without travelling," explained organizer Coco Seitz.

There will be 12 cultures represented at the festival: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Filipino, Italian, Dutch, South African, Vietnamese, Ktunaxa, Metis and Canadian.

"We are going to celebrate our diversity through three main areas of our cultures," said Seitz.

Those three areas are live entertainment, food, and cultural booths.

At the cultural booths, Seitz said, "visitors can expect to see arts, artifacts, pictures, and an overall introduction of the culture.

"Also, we will have cultural representatives stationed in the booth to introduce their booth and answer any questions and have a conversation about their culture."

Those representatives will wear outfits significant to their culture.

What's more, festivalgoers can buy traditional food for that culture.

"It's homemade, real authentic food," explained Seitz.

And each culture will perform a traditional dance or music from their country. Between acts, national anthems from each country will play.

A children's tent will give kids the chance to make crafts from each country.

For example, Seitz explained, the Chinese group is going to have the Beijing Opera face painting; the Japanese group will make origami, and the Dutch group will make windmills.

Artisan vendors will also sell culturally significant items and items that support multiculturalism.

The idea for the festival was born in January, when Seitz first thought about celebrating all of the different cultures represented by Cranbrook's population. With other enthusiastic board members, the Cranbrook Multicultural Society was registered in February. Then fundraising began in earnest: Columbia Basin Trust, the City of Cranbrook and numerous local businesses have thrown their support behind the festival.

"The main focus of our event is to promote multiculturalism and raise mutual respect," said Seitz.

And it's not too late to get involved.

"This year, we only have 12 cultures, but that doesn't represent all of the multiculturalism here in Cranbrook," said Seitz.

"We call for more cultural groups to step forward if they are interested. We have the cultural coordinator package ready to go. As long as they are willing to put in some time and work, we can fit more in."

For more information, visit www.cbkmulticulture.org.

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