Mild weather on Sunday drew a large crowd to the third and final day of Kansas City’s 36th annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival in Swope Park.
“It’s been a wonderful August,” said Jean Vasquez of Osawatomie, Kan. “It’s unbelievable.”
She and her husband, Joe, and their son, Joe Vasquez of Olathe, were attacking corn on the cob, dripping with butter, that they bought at the American Indian tent.
“We’ve been coming every year,” Jean Vasquez said.
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This year’s festival featured food, crafts and culture from 62 ethnicities. The Parks and Recreation Department estimates the festival draws more than 35,000 people a year, but this year may have had greater attendance than usual.
“We felt it was bigger Friday night and it was huge Saturday,” said Melinda Minks, who works as liaison between the parks department and the Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission. She has worked on the festival since year seven, when organizers only had about six golf carts. Now they have 32.
“We were gifted with good weather,” Minks said of this year’s festival.
For the most part. There was no rain but a strong wind at 3:45 a.m. Sunday blew the Indonesian tent clear over to the parking lot.
“People who lowered their tents or had them tied down well were fine,” Minks said.
A newcomer to the festival this year was a half-booth from St. Lucia.
“It’s going good,” booth worker Irma Arthur said of business. “I didn’t expect it to be so good.”
Arthur was indulging in one of her own salt fish cakes cooked with bell peppers, onions and herbs in olive oil. Her partner, Debra Haynes, was selling jewelry fashioned from seashells.
Elsewhere, festival goers were enjoying $1 tacos and $2 enchiladas from the Mexican booth, haggis from the Scottish booth, loko moko (rice, hamburger patty, egg and gravy) from Samoa and beef stew from Ethiopia. There was a long line for shaved ice from the Hawaiian booth.
Visitors sat on hay bales at the bandstand to watch a demonstration of Japanese kendo martial arts, Lithuanian folk dancing and a fashion show with entries from northeastern Brazil to Germany.
Molly Yarber of Gladstone enjoyed a pineapple drink from Laos served in a cup made out of a real pineapple. She was with companions Debbie Brown of Raytown and Dianna Moore of Independence.
The most exotic fare Brown had was sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf from Thailand.
“It was good,” she said. “It was sweet.”