By Gladys B. Vargas

Hundreds of people attended the 26th Multicultural Festival at Plaza Park in Oxnard Saturday, which featured booths of different nations, cultural foods, and diverse music and dance performances.

The Oct. 7 event is presented for free every year on the first Saturday of October by the city’s Community Relation’s Commission, to “promote understanding and respect among all racial, religious and nationality groups.”

Many groups performed on stage throughout the day, including the Mike Penny Shamusen Studio, with music performances of the traditional Japanese instrument, and the Rishabh Kaushik Dance Team. The Yolie Dance Studio performed as well as having their booth dedicated to Hungary and Italy.

Additionally, booths were run by people representing Kenya, Colombia, Bolivia, India, Cambodia, Oaxaca, Scotland and El Salvador. The Ventura County Chinese American Association and Filipino American Council had booths as well, and many groups offered cultural arts and crafts, or activities. Food vendors offered empanadas, tacos, pizza and more.

“26 years of…really, really great food and prizes and music,” Mayor John Zaragoza said at the opening ceremony for the festival. “The CRC’s done a really, really good job for all of us, for year after year.”

Zaragoza also read an excerpt from an official Oxnard city council proclamation which had been ratified at a council meeting earlier in the week, designating October as Multicultural Month.

Also during the opening ceremony, the CRC presented Community Recognition Awards to local volunteers, leaders, and groups who were nominated for their contributions to the community. Brenda Heredia, Abel Velasquez, Marvin Booth, LaRita Montgomery, the Legacy Martial Arts Center, and Swap Meet Justice were all recognized at the event.

“Anytime you’re recognized, it’s an honor,” Booth said in his acceptance of the CRC award. “The City of Oxnard has been my home for 80 years. I’m proud of it, and I’m willing to go the extra mile.”

In her remarks, Ventura County Supervisor Vianey Lopez said she was thankful for the festival as a celebration of “the diversity of cultures, of nations, of traditions, that many of us as immigrants and those of us who make Ventura County an amazing community.”

“I am so proud to say that this event happens here at the heart of Oxnard,” Lopez said, “where we are recognizing that diversity that makes Ventura County a great place to live.”