Ridgefield played host to entertainment, food and art from across the world over the weekend as part of the second annual multicultural festival at Overlook Park Sept. 7.
The day’s schedule featured performances including the Maharaja Bhangra Indian dance group, the Spiritual Brothers Ghanaian music, dance and magic group, the Tepeyac Pre-Hispanic Dance Group and others. Apart from the entertainment acts, several food vendors provided delicacies ranging from barbecue, Carribean Jerk cooking and a variety of chutneys among other offerings.
Event organizer Megan Dudley said the event, which debuted in the city last year, came about in part as she was spurred on by relationships with co-workers at Kaiser Permanente who were of different backgrounds worldwide. She recognized that there were people becoming a part of the rapidly-growing city’s community who could use more representation.
“I think the more that we can understand about each other, the easier it is to have respect,” Dudley said.
Dudley said the acts came from both the Portland area as well as more local — she mentioned that some of the youth in the Maharaja Bhangra dance group were Ridgefield students. She said that this year highlighted the native culture of the area, specifically the Chinook people.
The tribe had a booth set up featuring “Itsxut,” the canoe of the late Chinook chairman Ray Gardner. Chinook Vice-chairman Sam Robinson was on site to talk to people about the culture.
“It’s good to see so many folks coming out of Ridgefield to really participate in this,” Robinson remarked. He noted that Overlook Park had a view of lands that were historically Chinook.
“You only have to go back about 240 years and it was only Chinook people here,” Robinson remarked. He spoke about the tribe’s current struggle for federal recognition, an ongoing battle now tied up in the courts.
Part of the tribe’s participation was in an effort to inform people of the Chinook’s ongoing existence in the area.
“It’s always important to let these folks know that they’re in Chinook country,” Robinson said.