Event celebrates Ethiopian culture, food
After moving to the Portland metro area in 2009, Emebet Alemu found herself searching for more culturally expressive events in the community. When she noticed little to no representation and celebration of her own home country of Ethiopia, Alemu decided she should get things started.
Years later, with help from the City of Hillsboro, Alemu is excited to welcome community members to the Ethiopian Cultural Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St., for a variety of culturally-rich activities.
"Culture can be so inspiring whether that be through things like food, dance or clothing," says Alemu. "Here in America, everyone is from a different place and I just want to share Ethiopian culture with those who may be unfamiliar with it."
The free, family-friendly event is open to all who are interested in learning more about the African country. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. lunch will be available for purchase from Enat Kitchen, a Portland-based restaurant that serves up authentic Ethiopian cuisine like fan-favorite injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread originating from the Horn of Africa.
"Ethiopian cuisine is actually known for being one of the healthiest in the world with lots of fresh vegetables and proteins," says Alemu. "There should be something for everyone to snack on and enjoy."
A traditional coffee ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. to recognize the Ethiopian routine of serving coffee on a daily basis — primarily to gather relatives, neighbors and visitors for conversation and friendship building.
Attendees can also visit local vendors to enjoy traditional Ethiopian snacks and pick up decorative souvenirs. According to Alemu, there will be additional activities for children to enjoy, such as hair braiding, face painting and games native to Ethiopia.
It's Alemu's goal for visitors to simply learn a bit more about the small, often underrepresented, African country by indulging in many of its different customs, dishes and rich history.
"Most people from this area — and really America in general — don't even know where Ethiopia is located geographically," says Alemu. "I hope that showing people how vibrant and fun this country and its culture is will make them open to learning more."
Event activities will wrap up with a 2 p.m. screening of, "Lamb," an award-winning and family-friendly Ethiopian film. The film follows a young Ethiopian boy sent to live with his uncle after the untimely death of his mother. But after being told to sacrifice his beloved lamb, the protagonist decides to embark on a long journey home.
Alemu says she's excited to watch the film alongside everyone else and enjoy the spectacular cinematography, which has won praise for its scenic views of Ethiopia.
"I hope that at the end of the event people can leave with a bit more knowledge about Ethiopia, even if it's just from a fun fact sheet," says Alemu. "But more than anything I hope visitors leave with a desire to experience more cultures from all around the world."
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