Photo courtesy of Ethnic Enrichment Festival
When my history teacher told our class about the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, and I was excited to branch out. I usually spend my weekends binge watching “The Office” for the eighth time and procrastinating my homework, so it was out of character for me to do something educational with my time.
So when I walked across the grassy field and jumping over muddy puddles, I was intrigued by the tunnel of 43 flags for each country . My eyes are immediately taken from Italian cookies to fruity Hawaiian drinks. They had everything from Russian Pastries to traditional Native American dishes.
It felt like a giant farmer’s market with food from everywhere around the world.
I was hoping to try foods that I couldn’t normally find at the grocery store. I’m a picky eater, so I was excited to push my taste buds and try something new. I opted for the shortest line—the Moroccan food stand. In an attempt to get out of my comfort zone, I picked something random off the menu called marble. Marble is a dessert with a chocolate bottom, peanut butter batter in the middle, and white frosting with chocolate drizzle on top. It tasted like a fancy Reese’s bar. Not exactly the adventurous eating I was hoping for.
Almost every booth at the festival was centered on food. The American Indian booth was selling Indian tacos—I can’t say I recall learning in school about the Indians eating tacos on the open plains. It was probably a fifty-fifty split between authentic dishes and dishes that were fused with American foods. This was disappointing because I was hoping for for authentic dishes. Besides food, the other big attraction was the dancers.
On the main stage in the cool stage, I saw the Serbian dancers were wearing long dark skirts with white shirts dancing to folk music with a fast tempo. In a big circle they held hands and danced around the stage. They were good and all, but I think the crowd was drawn to the shade more than the actualdancers.
Besides eating, there wasn’t much else to do at the festival. Of the few non-food based booths I saw, a Cuban photography booth that featured artsy and colorful shots of Cuba stuck out to me. A booth selling colorful Pakistani garments with dramatic patterns also caught my eye. The booth also offered to write your name in Urdu—the native language of Pakistan— for two dollars. Despite this, the festival seemed like it would be more fun for the kids because they had the entertainment of walking around to get their fake passports stamped from each of the 43 countries.
The Ethnic Enrichment Festival was mainly a food fest, and I tended to question the authenticity of what I was being offered. I was hoping there would be more booths selling goods from the countries and things to look at. There was some authentic food, but I would prefer an authentic restaurant for the country I was interested in learning more about than going from booth to booth.
I can’t say I would go back next year. I didn’t feel culturally enriched or that I learned something new by the end of my time at the festival, which was my goal. My overall experience was comparable to eclipse—over hyped. But if you were in the right spot maybe it would have been a smidge better.