Elk Grove community members came together for a full day of multicultural engagement and entertainment outside Laguna Town Hall on Aug. 14 for the Elk Grove Laguna Culture Fest.
Talented singers and dancers wowed the audience as vendors shared their cultures and offered the public a chance to take home unique and in some cases one-of-a-kind items.
“Diversity is inevitable in today’s times, and acceptance of other cultures is not a vital component to all of our successes, it is how to become educated and aware of all the goodness that we can bring to one another,” said Rashid Sidqe, CEO of Lift Up Love Always, event co-sponsor, along with RW Media and Today’s Times Newspaper.
Although the city of Elk Grove’s Diversity Month is underway, this festival was held independently from that series of community events.
Bruce Walton, owner of Sac Valley Vocals, brought four of his student singers, including local favorite and “The Voice” performer Larriah Jackson to participate in the Culture Fest. He said he encourages his students to explore their musical heritage as much as possible.
“My students who are Latino students; I try to get them to learn stuff in Spanish. Filipino students – I tried to get them to learn Tagalog; Chinese students, Chinese,” he said.
Singer Camila Marin, 12, performed Selena’s “Como la Flor” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Traitor” drew loud applause from her audience.
“Selena was an icon,” she said after her performance. “My family loves her, and so, I kind of wanted to incorporate my singing. It’s just an iconic song.”
Meanwhile, Rodrigo became “popular with her singing,” Marin said, and “from that, she’s like, she’s like a rising star right now.”
Promoting the art of West African drumming and dance by specializing in selling refurbished djembe drums for djembe players, Naseer Muhajir said there has been a need for the availability of djembe drums in Sacramento.
“There are some people who do African dance classes, but don’t have enough drummers,” he said.
Muhajir has been playing the djembe for the past eight years and he just began refurbishing drums during the pandemic to encourage more djembe drummers. His business, Seriously Slap’n Djembes is based out of his home in East Sacramento.
First he finds a djembe that has either been damaged, the skin busted; or maybe the rope is bad. He’ll tear it down, put in new ropes, put on new skin to make them almost brand new and conditioned with shea butter to give it moisture.
When the pandemic shutdowns first began, social worker Felice Williams said she began living out a dream of making fashionable clothing and jewelry. She began with masks and then got creative with denim jackets, T-shirts, and then added jewelry to her repertoire.
The sales from the clothes and accessories she makes go to her nonprofit, Esteem Family Youth and Resources, which is comprised of various programs and services that offer support to youth and families that are at a crossroads and in need of extra support to overcome obstacles.
Rather than just asking for money to support her nonprofit, Williams said supporters can now have something that they can buy.
The event paid tribute to the fast-growing Elk Grove community, which is not only becoming one of the popular places to call home in California; it is also recognized as one of the most diverse cities in America.
“With an endearing combination of cultures comprised of people representing nations from around the world, Elk Grove Laguna is a true melting pot of lifestyles,” stated the event’s press statement.