Some travel the world to experience other cultures, but Federal Way locals got a taste of diversity closer to home at the second annual Flavor of Federal Way multicultural festival last weekend.
Hundreds gathered to share their heritage, traditions, cuisine and more during Saturday’s event hosted at Town Square Park.
While “Flavor” is commonly thought of as a cultural food festival, it is named to reflect the vast and rich ways of life in Federal Way, said Gregory Baruso, logistics manager for the Flavor of Federal Way and chairman of Federal Way’s Diversity Commission.
“Flavor of Federal Way means to me … bringing diversity together within the city,” he said. “The different cultures, seeing how they mix with each other and the food is just part of it.”
Flavor’s inaugural event last year saw 55 vendors and six food vendors. This year, the festival welcomed 11 food vendors and a total of 84 profit and nonprofit vendors, along with 12 performances taking stage throughout the day.
“When you think about the rich talent we have here in the city, it’s like ‘Wow,’” he said. “You never knew — until you start asking.”
The worldly lineup of entertainment included Dana Purepecha Emanuel, Washington Diamonds Drill Team, Ranjeet Gatka, Mansung Pungmul Dan, spoken word performances and many others.
“It’s been a culmination of a whole year’s work from trying to take off of the success from last year and expand it more to celebrate the diversity of the city and the people that live here,” Baruso said.
The commission asked vendors to chat with one another and get to know each other. Baruso said he saw food vendors sharing dishes and tasting each others recipes. Food offerings of Indian, Ethiopian and Uzbekistan, among others.
Attendees wandered through the vendor corridors with booths for immigration law help, political organizations, voter registration, health care, arts, community services and cultural traditions.
When vendors apply for the flavor event, the process has each vendor explain why it is important for their organization or group to be at an event celebrating diversity, Baruso said. This step in the process helps the Diversity Commission ensure each vendor is helping progress the work plan for the city and demonstrate Federal Way’s diversity scene.
Members of the Khalsa Gurmat School, a Sikh institution serving the Seattle area, offered free turban tyings during the festival. Elected officials, City Council members and candidate hopefuls, as well as festival goers of all ages donned colorful turbans in yellow, pink, blue and purple.
Gazing at the vendor booth where a father and daughter sat waiting as their turbans were expertly wrapped, Baruso said: “That, right there, is what [Flavor of Federal Way] is all about.”