A Mosaic of Culture, Food and Arts in Wright Park

Two community-curated stages,16 food trucks and dozens of booths from arts to health will fill Wright Park July 23-24 at Mosaic, Tacoma’s arts & culture festival.

Tacoma, WA: Gumbo. Falafel. Lumpia. Henna, jewelry, coffee, African prints, cupcakes. Tacoma’s Wright Park will shimmer in a mosaic of world culture, food and community services July 23-24 at Mosaic, the newly-renamed festival of arts & culture.

Running 12-7pm each day, the free 34-year-old festival – known previously as Ethnic Fest – returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus with a new name and new look. A trio of community leaders has curated the two performance stages, and the name Mosaic highlights the kaleidoscope of dance, music, art, food and culture that makes up Tacoma.

“Tacoma has such a diversity of cultures, and Metro Parks is thrilled to bring back this festival to celebrate them,” said Andrea Smith, park board president. “I’ve been taking my own family for years, and every time there’s something new and wonderful to see, do, taste or experience. It’s the best way to learn about all the amazing places in our world, and the people who bring those cultures to make our city life so rich.”

Headlining the Main Stage on Saturday night is Lady A, voted 2020 and 2021 Female Blues Performer of the Year by the Washington Blues Society. Other main stage performers throughout the weekend include dance, drums and music from Guam, Korea, Hawaii, China, Tahiti, Samoa and Indonesia; the Vision Dance Team and Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center; and Mariachi Guadalajara.

Filling the Community Stage will be Lucha Volcanica, Okinawa Dance & Drums, Folklorico Tonantzin, Mariachi Monarcas, Baildores de Bronze, Thai and Cambodian dance, Banda Hermanos Bello and more.

“When choosing performers, I really wanted ‘peppy’!” explained Lua Pritchard, executive director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center and one of three community curators along with Tere Carral from Bridge Latino and Candace Wesley of JCW & Associates, who produced the park’s Juneteenth celebration this year. “I want people to move with what’s on stage, to dance, to be uplifted. I have been with this festival since the very first one, and I know what people like.”

Mosaic also features a beer garden, 16 food trucks from a wide variety of cuisines, 20 arts and crafts booths from a myriad of cultures (including a 30x50-foot tent full of Asia-Pacific cultures and artifacts), vendor booths and around 40 information booths from Tacoma community groups, agencies and services, from faith to health to education.

The festival kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday July 23 with a “Walk of Destiny” parade around the park, culminating in an opening blessing from the Puyallup Tribe. Community members are invited to wear clothing reflecting their heritage. Other fun activities include a Kids Zone with bounce house, splash park and more.

The outdoor Movie in the Park “Selena” will screen Saturday at dusk, in partnership with The Grand Cinema.

And while the new name may not be as familiar as the old, it comes with a much more inclusive meaning. While the word “ethnic” is literally defined as relating to groups of people with a common racial, national, tribal, religious or cultural background, the term is often misused by a white-dominated culture to refer only to cuisines and art forms different from the majority.

“The pandemic closures gave us all an opportunity to take a step back and really evaluate,” explains Sophia McKee, manager for Metro Parks Tacoma’s regional parks attractions and events. “We wanted a name for this community festival that truly celebrates the brilliant diversity of cultures in our city, without a term that is offensive in the way it’s often used.”

Mosaic is presented by Regence BlueShield, in partnership with Bath Fitter NW and Washington’s Lottery. It is supported by BECU, Smith Bros, City of Tacoma and Tacoma Venues & Events. Media sponsors include KNKX, Warm 106.9 and Roam Tacoma.

“Regence is proud to be part of Mosaic and to help feature the rich and diverse arts and culture in Tacoma,” said Claire Verity, market president of Regence BlueShield. “Regence was founded in Tacoma more than a century ago and we are honored to still serve and celebrate the community.”

WHEN: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. July 23-24

WHERE: Wright Park, 501 S I St, Tacoma

LEARN MORE: See the complete Mosaic lineup at mosaictacoma.com.

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