Diversity draws many to festival

PARKERSBURG – Diversity is what brought many people out this past weekend to the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival.

The annual festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday at City Park, provided opportunities to sample a variety of different foods and music representing a number of countries and cultures from around the world.

As the festival came to a close Sunday, organizers felt many people from around the community came out to see what was available. Since the festival had free admission, there was no clear way to get an accurate count of how many people attended the festival throughout the weekend.

Bev Walker, special project coordinator for the festival, said many festival officials thought more people came out this year.

“The crowds were bigger this year,” she said. “It was a nice sized crowd.”

Although the weather was warm and sunny Sunday, many people were able to find a shady place to enjoy the music and more. This year, it seemed crowds were coming earlier each day to take in more of what the festival had to offer, said Jennifer Randolph, a festival board member.

“People have been coming out and enjoying the festival and what is going on,” she said.

Randolph wanted people to come out to the festival with acceptance and appreciation for the cultures that make up the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“As they said in the interfaith prayer, we are not trying to force anyone to believe anything different,” she said. “It is just an acceptance and an awareness of the knowledge that we are all different.

“We are trying to open up people’s eyes in Parkersburg about how much there is to offer around here and how different people are. Acceptance, love, unity, peace with one another – that is what we are all about.”

Carol Morgenstern, of Little Hocking, is a member of the Ki No Kaze Bonsai Club which had a booth and was doing demonstrations throughout the weekend festival.

“I am here to help people understand the Bonsai process and get them interested in being members of our club,” she said. “We have had a really great turnout with people interested in the trees this weekend.”

Although the majority of trees the club displayed during the festival were privately owned, many people sought information on where to purchase the trees.

“This is our second year for being here and it is great exposure,” Morgenstern said of the club’s presence at the festival. “A lot of people in this area have never seen Bonsai trees.

“People may have heard of the concept of a Bonsai tree but have never seen them live. This gives people an opportunity to actually see what a Bonsai tree looks like and the process to grow them, the length of time. It is a great opportunity,” she said.

Mary Yost had her granddaughters, Emily and Elizabeth Yost, in from Mars, Pa., for the week.

“We like to take them around and show them what we have in our community,” she said. “They are very interested in different cultures. We thought we would visit the festival today.”

Both girls said they were having a good time.

Regina Casto, of Parkersburg, has been coming to the festival every year since it started.

“I just like seeing all the diversity, the different cultures,” she said.

She always enjoys the music and the different performers every year as well as the nationalities represented. For Casto, the annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival is a way to bring people from around the community together.

“I think it gets everyone together more,” she said. “They learn more about the lives of different people everywhere.”