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The event, held in Tualatin Community Park, featured dancers, booths and food vendors galore.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dancers with Danza Azteca perform a Rainwater Dance during Viva Tualatin!  What Tualatin resident Richard Hager liked most about the first-ever ¡Viva Tualatin!, held in Tualatin Community Park Saturday, was watching Danza Azteca, a troupe of Aztec dancers assembled in Tualatin Community Park Saturday.

"I liked the drums, the feathers, the costumes, the beadwork and the dancing itself," said Hager, who served as a Tualatin City Council member from 1991-97. He said he also liked the fact that the dancing itself was explained to the audience in both English and Spanish.

Betsy Rodriguez Ruef, the city's community engagement coordinator, who worked extensively on planning ¡Viva Tualatin!, said she was pleased with the turnout.

"For the first year, I think it's good," she said, noting that she had already received positive comments from the Hispanic community, which comprises 17% of Tualatin's population.

While ArtSplash had been going on for more than 20 years – held during hot days in July at Tualatin Commons – city officials have said they decided to move in a different direction.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mahathi Sridhar performs a traditional Bharatnatyam Indian dance at Viva Tualatin! Saturday at Tualatin Community Park.

"We thought, 'why not morph it into something with more vibrancy and culture," said Ruef. "Staff has really come together and we're really glad that it's a family/community event."

On hand Saturday were an estimated 50 outside vendors, selling everything from food to insurance to artwork. Also helping out was an army of about 100 volunteers, according to Heidi Marx, an event specialist for the City of Tualatin. Food fare included vendors selling Mexican, Indian, Samoan and other cuisines.

"We're trying to get a little bit of everything," Marx said of the vendors. "I think it's going great. Fantastic."

One of the booths featured the artwork of Delores A. Lubbes a landscape and portrait artist who specializes in Northwest art. Dotting the walls of her booth were more than a dozen water color prints.

Her husband, Eric Lubbes, said although they weren't particularly busy initially during the early part of the afternoon, there were several aspects of the festival that he really liked.

"I kind of like the way it's set up," said Eric Lubbes. "It's a little more open."

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dancers with Danza Azteca perform a Community Dance during Viva Tualatin! held Saturday at Tualatin Community Park.As Delores Lubbes talked with a visitor, Eric waxed poetic about his wife's talent, saying she was so detailed oriented that she counted every bead on a water color print featuring a Native American girl and it took the artist four days to get the girl's scarf just the way she wanted it.

For the younger people attending ¡Viva Tualatin!, which means "Long live Tualatin," activities included coloring on a giant mural, playing with liquid chalk and making miniature pinatas.

Among those crafting piñatas were sisters Seorin Lee, 5, and Seohyeon Lee, 9.

Both were enjoying themselves said their father, Junseung Lee, formerly of South Korea but now a Tualatin resident. He said the girls planned to fill the containers with hard candy or chocolate.

Following the performance of Danza Azteca, Mahathi Sridhar took center stage, performing her Bharatnatyam form of classical Indian Dance.

For six minutes, the 15-year-old Tualatin High School sophomore performed an intricate and expressive dance.

"I've been dancing since I was 6," she explained after her performance. "I really enjoy it."

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Seorin Lee, 5, of Tualatin, makes a piñata during Viva Tualatin! held Saturday at Tualatin Community Park.Sridhar said she practices extensively, anywhere from two to four hours a day depending on upcoming performances. (Her largest to date was dancing in front of 600 people at Canby High School.)

Other featured ¡Viva Tualatin! performers included Ballet Folklorico (traditional Mexican Dance), Paradise of Samoa (authentic Pacific Island dance), Emcees Sharo Reyes and Enrique Caizero (Caizero did both the market video for the festival and is well known in the Latino community) and Dina Los Rumberos.


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