A mosaic of culture, food and the arts in Wright Park

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

Okra. Falafel. Lumpia. Henna, jewelry, coffee, African prints, cupcakes. Tacoma’s Wright Park will sparkle in a mosaic of global culture, food and community service on July 23-24 at Mosaic, the new arts and culture festival.

Held from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day, the 34-year-old free festival – previously known as Ethnic Fest – returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus with a new name and a new look. A trio of community leaders 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 this festival back to celebrate them,” said Andrea Smith, chair of the park’s board of directors. “I’ve been taking my own family for years, and whenever there’s something new and wonderful to see, do, taste or experience. It’s the best way to experience all of the amazing places in our world and the people who bring these cultures to make the life of our city so rich.

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

The community stage will be filled with Lucha Volcanica, Okinawa Dance & Drums, Folklorico Tonantzin, Mariachi Monarcas, Baildores de Bronze, Thai and Cambodian dance, Banda Hermanos Bello and more.

“When choosing artists, I really wanted to be ‘peppy’!” explained Lua Pritchard, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Center and one of three community curators along with Tere Carral of Bridge Latino and Candace Wesley of JCW & Associates, who produced the park’s June 19 celebration this year. “I want people to move with what’s on stage, to dance, to rise. I’ve been with this festival since the very first and I know what people like.

Mosaic also includes a beer garden, 16 food trucks from a wide variety of cuisines, 20 arts and crafts stalls from a myriad of cultures (including a 30 x 50 foot tent full of cultures and… Pacific artifacts), vendor booths, and approximately 40 information booths from Tacoma groups, agencies, and community services, ranging from faith to health to education.

The festival kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 23 with a “Walk of Destiny” parade around the park, culminating with an opening blessing from the Puyallup tribe. Community members are encouraged to wear clothing that reflects their heritage. Other fun activities include a children’s zone. with bouncy house, water park and more.

Wright Park was the perfect venue for the event and will continue to be. Credit: Russ Carmack

The outdoor film in the park “Selena” will be screened on Saturday at dusk, in partnership with The Grand Cinema.

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

“The pandemic closures have given us all an opportunity to take a step back and really assess,” says Sophia McKee, Regional Parks Attractions and Events Manager for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We wanted a name for this community festival that truly celebrates the brilliant diversity of cultures in our city, without an offensive term in how 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, the City of Tacoma, and Tacoma Venues & Events. Media sponsors include KNKX, Warm 106.9 and Roam Tacoma.

“Regency is proud to be a part of Mosaic and to help showcase Tacoma’s rich and diverse arts and culture,” said Claire Verity, Market President of Regence BlueShield. “Regency was founded in Tacoma over a century ago and we are honored to still serve and celebrate the community.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 23-24

WHERE: Wright Park, 501 S.I St, Tacoma

LEARN MORE: Discover the complete Mosaic range on mosaictacoma.com.

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