Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Mary Long, left, and Denise Burns of Madera United Methodist Church give fans to Ariana Cano, 2, right, and Anali Cano, 3, during the 2017 Interfaith/Intercultural Festival on Thursday in Hatfield Hall at the Madera District Fairgrounds.
Clubs, churches, government agencies, and others displayed an array of heritages Thursday evening at the 21st annual Interfaith/Intercultural Festival at the Madera District Fairgrounds.
Volunteers manned tables displaying information, foods, memorabilia and handicrafts as children strove for stamps on their free “passport” to prove they visited each table. Meanwhile parents and others wandered, chatted and watched musical performances.
“It’s growing now. It was much smaller at the start ... It shows really how diverse the United States is, even in a small town that it seems like Madera is,” said attendee Rudolf Walker, of Swiss-German heritage.
Some attendees were caught off guard upon seeing familiar faces in exotic traditional dress.
“It’s awesome,” said Van Do Reynoso, of Vietnamese heritage and director of Madera County Public Health Department. “This is a great opportunity for Madera County to learn about the different cultures living here. It’s a wonderful experience for the kids and for the families … Our clients say, ‘Wait! Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ ”
Interact Club member Yasmine Lorance, 17 and of Yaqui heritage, invited people to sign up for Madera International Women’s Day at Pan American Center, 703 Sherwood Way, on March 4. “Men and women can both dress up as a country and represent them in a fashion parade,” she said of the event, which will also feature speeches, interactive dance, a coloring contest, food and raffles.
Lorance also shared about Empowering Silent Voices, which she said “teaches women how to speak up about sexual violence and abuse.”
Tony Gurule provided information about Ratio Christi, a nondemoninational Christian apologetics club seeking volunteers to help bring it to Madera schools, especially the Madera Community College Center. “In California, we have U.C. Berkeley, San Jose State, Sacramento State and then all of a sudden nothing until you get to Southern California,” he said.
The Madera Coalition for Community Justice sponsors the yearly educational celebration of ethnic and religious diversity in Hatfield Hall.