ARTESIA – The City of Artesia is set to host its first ever “International Diversity Festival” on October 4, Saturday, on the city’s main thoroughfare, Pioneer Boulevard, between 183rd and 188th.
According to Artesia City Mayor Tony Lima, the big event will be music, food and entertainment extravaganza. Along the stretch of Pioneer Blvd. that spans form 183rd to 187th, there will be food and entertainment booths, while exhibitors and vendor booths will line up from 187th to 188th.
Lima said to expect different cultures to be showcased at every food and exhibitor booth at the festival: Portuguese, Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino, among others.
There will also be a main stage where non-stop music and entertainment will be featured.
Lima, when he was sworn into office as Mayor, called his term the “Diversity Year,” a reference to the diverse cultures found within the 1.6-square mile town.
The event is seen as an opportunity to promote Artesia’s rich tapestry of culture, which includes more 47 spoken languages spread across different ethnic communities within the tiny city, giving it a strong case to be called the most diverse city in California — maybe in the country.
Reflecting the people and the city
Lima said that in the old days of Artesia, there were three major ethnic groups, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the Mexicans.
“They had their own festivals, they celebrated their cultures in their own communities,” Lima said to Asian Journal.
However, Lima added, all the celebration stopped “all of a sudden,” about 20 years ago, for reasons that are not easily discernible.
The people of Artesia suddenly did not have any activities to look forward to in the city. Residents began to go out to neighboring cities to see attractions, and events.
When he stepped in as city mayor, Lima believed it was about time to bring back the city’s tradition of celebrating culture, during the aptly named “Diversity Year.”
“I thought it would be appropriate to have a signature event that would occur year-after-year to celebrate the diversity that exists here,” Lima said.
This would give people of different ethnic backgrounds to showcase their history, food, culture, fashion, arts, and folklore.
“This is what is festival is about. It’s about the people of Artesia,” Lima added.
Lima also pointed out that the event will be a platform for the city government to promote all the other projects they are planning for Artesia. Among the most important of these planned projects include the renovation of Pioneer Boulevard, and the proposed construction of a Metro Train station on 188th and Pioneer.
It will be the last station for the train that runs from Union Station to Artesia, Lima said.
With all the hoopla surrounding the event, and all the excitement for Artesia’s impending developments, the city officials cannot contain their excitement for the coming festival.
“[We’re] very excited. This is absolutely wonderful, not only for Artesia, but also for Southern Californian communities. This is going to bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm, as well as it also [allows us to] embrace each other’s cultures,” Artesia Councilmember Ali Sajjad Taj said to Asian Journal.
“We’re inviting different communities, different cultures, different VIPs to come here. Different people from other countries are going to come here. So this is very important for the recognition of Artesia,” Taj added.
Taj said that Artesia is inviting residents from all over Southern California cities to come and experience the sights and sounds of the quaint town that’s right in the heart of Los Angeles County’s south eastern corridor.
‘Providential’ festival for Pangasinan Brotherhood USA
Eddie Ferrer, president of Pangasinan Brotherhood USA, lauded the city government of Artesia for hosting the International Diversity Festival.
“Thank you for bringing forth this providential event, which will allow us to showcase the products of our kababayans from Pangasinan,” Ferrer said to Lima.
According to Ferrer, the Brotherhood will be hosting a delegation of grassroots businesses from the Province of Pangasinan in the Philippines. The group will be the Brotherhood’s guests for a 3-day expo which aims to promote livelihood opportunities for the locals of the province. They are expected to showcase their products at the Diversity Festival on Oct. 4.
Aside from the delegation entrepreneurs, an entourage of the Pangasinan Provincial government is also expected to attend the Festival, as guests of the Brotherhood and the City Government.
“What you did, Mayor, is really providential for the Province of Pangasinan,” Ferrer said.
The Filipino community, as a whole, has a significant presence in Artesia. In fact, one of the city’s elected council members is a Filipino-American.
Councilmember Victor Manalo, speaking about the diversity festival, said that he is proud that Filipinos will be well-represented in the event.
“I am proud that Filipinos will be well-represented at this festival because Filipinos constitute the most populous Asian group in the City of Artesia, and, everyone knows that this area of Los Angeles County boasts a large Filipino population overall. We all need to show our pride in our heritage, culture, and traditions,” Manalo said to Asian Journal via email correspondence.
Manalo also said that he is convinced that festival attendees and visitors will experience the vitality and hospitality of Artesia’s downtown International Business District.
“We have exciting plans for the downtown [area], and I know that visitors will want to return to be a part of the experience,” he said.
The Fil-Am public servant called on Filipinos all across Southern California to come and attend the inaugural International Diversity Festival.
“I promise you that you will not be disappointed,” Manalo said.
(LA Weekend September 13-16, 2014 Sec. C pg.6)