Portage Co. culture festival blends sights, smells, sounds - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Portage Co. culture festival blends sights, smells, sounds

Posted: Updated: May 10, 2014 07:01 PM
STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -- Central Wisconsin is home to a variety of ethnic groups.

That was celebrated Saturday at the Portage County Cultural Festival.

Organizers estimated more than 12,000 people showed up to the free event in Stevens Point.

"It's a wonderful marriage of different kinds of food, different kinds of artwork, different crafts," said Patty Noel, a member of the festival's planning committee.

Organizers say 50 to 60 nationalities and ethnicities were represented.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to learn about other people's ethnic backgrounds," said Toni Brendel of Plover.

Brendel is Slovakian. She was sitting between Hmongs and Ukrainians.

"It's important for us to get along with each other, learn about each other," Brendel said.

Organizers say that learning can begin at a young age.

"Honoring diversity starts with learning that we are all alike," Noel said.

With that in mind, they say the festival is especially meaningful for children.

"They may not have the chance to travel the world, but in one day they can see and taste a lot of cool things," said Noel.

Organizers say the food is a big way people come together.

"You can't know a culture unless you've tasted it and I believe that," Noel said. "You sure can taste cultures here. It's totally yummy."

Brendel says she's been coming here for years and likes all of the food, art and language, but her favorite part is always the same.

"The people. I especially enjoy the kids when they come by," she said.

Organizers say they're able to keep the festival free thanks to the generous donations of people and businesses in the community.

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