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Weston fest hits a cultural chord

By David Volz
Special Correspondent
Posted February 16 2003

WESTON A family day.

A chance to see other cultures close-up.

These were some of the things that attracted the Carmona family to the Around the World in Weston Festival at Weston Town Center.

"I like the fact that Weston offers a festival like this," said Jorge Carmona, a Weston resident accompanied by his wife, Shannon, and their children, Sonya, 1, and Sofia, 3. "It is a nice family event and it offers a lot of Hispanic and American culture."

Shannon Carmona said her children liked all of the activities.

"An event like this is really good for the kids. It is fun for everyone," she said.

The Carmonas were among about 5,000 people who visited the festival, which was started in 1998.

A dozen and a half nations were represented in cultural exhibits, and artists ranged from a reggae singer and a 10-member Bahamas-style junkanoo band that performed with cowbells, goatskin drums and brass instruments to the Ballet Folklorico Bolivia, a five-member Korean musical group, and Freddy Harris, a steel pan drum player from Trinidad.

Ana Arriola, a member of the festival's volunteer committee, said she was pleased with the turnout and the participation of volunteers.

"We have cultural booths from different countries and a wide variety of entertainment," she said. "This gives us a chance to show people the diversity of cultures."

Beatriz Carrillo, a native of Ecuador who is a member of the Weston-based organization Mujeres Latinas Impulsando Mujeres Latinas (Latin Women Empowering Latin Women), shared her culture.

"We are exhibiting crafts such as wood carvings, pottery, tablecloths and paintings," said Carrillo, of Davie, who wore a traditional Ecuadoran outfit.

Paula Pezzia, a native of Peru who lives in Weston, also was garbed in a dress traditionally worn in her homeland.

"I want people here to know about Peru," she said. "At our booth, I am showing people wood carvings and clothing from my home country."

Festivalgoers could buy wood carvings and other African crafts from Modouba Kana, who was born in Senegal.

"Everything I was selling was from West Africa, where I am from," the Weston resident said.

The festival's international market showcased a variety of crafts from Latin America.

Raquel Rios, a Weston resident born in Paraguay, was selling tablecloths and woodcrafts from her homeland.

"This is my first time here and I like this event," she said.

The multicultural activities appealed to Jorge Gutierrez.

"I liked all the performances I saw," the Cooper City man said. "All the different cultures here are interesting."

Arrielle Ulvestad, 12, and her friend, Kayla Weber, 11, both of Weston, spent the day walking around all the exhibits and sampling the food.

"The exhibits here were really neat," Ulvestad said.

Others saw an opportunity for community service. Laura Kerney, a member of the Interact organization at Western High School in Davie, spent the day entertaining children at the Rotary Club tent.

"I was painting the faces of children," she said. "The value of an event like this is that you can learn about other cultures."

Vivian Asbaghi, a member of the Bahai Faith's spiritual assembly in Weston, said she hopes to see more cultural unity in the future. Her organization sponsored a booth.

"We believe in unity, but we also celebrate diverse cultures," she said.

©Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (FL, USA)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-we16worldfeb16,0,298098.story?coll=sfla-news-broward


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