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The city's Cultural Xchange event features dozens of small business owners and performers for the community to enjoy

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVE ARPIN - Mariachi Mexico En La Piel performs at the Cultural Xchange event in Lake Oswego.

Drums thunder as dancers wearing lion costumes prance around in front of an audience that forms a half circle around them. Mariachi band members flick their guitar strings as onlookers groove to the rhythm. And vendors, selling ethnic cuisine or eclectic artwork and fashion, smile while discussing their creations with curious locals.

The city of Lake Oswego's inaugural event celebrating all that the world has to offer — the Cultural Xchange — took place Sunday, Sept. 18 at Millennium Plaza Park.

"I think it's great. I think we need the diversity, to celebrate it and accept the people who are here," attendee Ann Tomkins said.

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Members of the Chinese Friendship Association of Portland perform a dance.

In putting on the event, the city enlisted dance performers, musicians and vendors from an array of nationalities and cultures. This included Anavai O Te Ora, a Tahitian dance group, the Japanese drumming group Portland Taiko and Clan Macleay Pipe Band — one of the oldest bagpipe bands in North America.

The food, meanwhile, ranged from Indian to Mexican as well as ice cream by a company founded in Mexico (Rainbow Ice Cream) and wines made by an Asian American couple (Cho Wines).

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVE ARPIN - Jonne Ketcher talks to an attendee about her illustrations at the event.

Carolina Andes enjoyed the mariachi band and drummers.

"It's very appealing and diverse music … The band, the drum going on, it's a different type of music. It's very enjoyable to listen to," she said, adding that her Indian food was delicious.

And the vendors the Review spoke with were enjoying their time.

Aleatha Lesueur spent the day helping her neighbor, Haoua Cheick Seip, sell eye-catching handbags made by women from Kenya, Ghana, Mali and other African countries through the Women Artisans Resource Enterprise.

"Things have been great. Hala has been doing amazing since they first opened. Everyone has been swarming. All of the lovely colors and intricate designs are really drawing everyone in," Lesueur said.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVE ARPIN - The Spice Collective sold Indian cuisine at the event.

Jonne Ketcher sold her illustrations, which depict Cherokee legends, at the event.

"We as Indigenous people have often not been able to share our stories with a wider audience. (This is) an opportunity to participate in festivals and talk to people about it; people ask questions and it's about educating too," she said.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVE ARPIN - The Clan Macleay Pipe Band entertains the crowd.

Kristy Batulayan with Koa Roots sold fruit and smoked brown butters. The butters are plant based and use oat cream as a substitute.

"It's actually really nice. The turnout was really good. Everyone is so nice and willing to come up and ask questions if they have any. I think it's great," Batulayan said.

PMG PHOTO: COEY BUCHANAN - Haoua Cheick Seip (left) sold bags and other accessories made by women from various African countries at the Cultural Xchange.

The local Respond to Racism group also had a booth at the event, and member Bruce A. Poinsette said that the Cultural Xchange was part of a larger effort at the city to highlight diverse cultures.

"It's part of a trend that's developing quite well," he said. "I'm glad the city is going in this direction."

Some attendees, meanwhile, appreciated the fact that the Lake Oswego event celebrated not just one culture but a multitude.

"This is a new thing and it's pretty cool," attendee Tom Andes said.

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - White Lotus Dragon & Lion Dance performs in front of the Lake Oswego audience.


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