Culture Fest started with hauntingly rhythmic drums and bells as women in headdresses and flowing skirts belly danced across the San Luis Obispo Veterans’ Hall stage Sunday morning.
The event, sponsored by the Multicultural Center and Student Life and Leadership, lasted all day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In its ninth year, the Culture Fest’s theme was “Know Your Roots.”
Clubs and organizations from both campus and the community set up booths for food, a dart toss and other activities. A bounce house, a coloring contest and barbecues occupied part of the parking lot outside.
More organizations were able to participate this year because of the bigger venue. Represented groups included Hillel, Latinos in Agriculture, Black Student Union, Wheelchair Foundation and different fraternities.
“We’re basically givng them a chance to showcase their culture,” Culture Fest committee chair Christine Nasol said.
Nasol said the participation of 25 cultural organizations in the festival contradicts a common sentiment at Cal Poly.
“It’s important to celebrate our culture especially at Cal Poly because people always say there is a lack of diversity,” music senior Nasol said. “There is culture. There is diversity. You just have to find it.”
Games were organized for kids because Cal Poly students have been the usual attendants before and Nasol said they wanted to bring families in as well. The effort did attract some families who walked around among the students.
“I think it’s important for clubs to make a connection with the SLO community,” she said, adding that kids would probably like to see different cultures.
Other performances on the main stage were the Pilipino Cultural Exchange choir, Lion dance, Soul Speak and Greek dance.
Serena Arge, an art major, came to the festival with the Cal Poly Mural Project and wanted to enjoy the food.
“They have a good representation and good mixture of different activities and groups so I think it’s good,” Arge said of Culture Fest.
Celebrating different cultures is important to Arge because she comes from a mixture of backgrounds and does not feel a particularly strong connection to her roots, but rather to cultures that she submerges herself.
“I think it’s important to celebrate culture because it’s good to have appreciation and to know what all sorts of cultures are,” she said.
Nasol pointed out that this festival is the one time during the year when cultural organizations come together and said she wanted students to come.
“Because we are part of Cal Poly, Cal Poly should have pride in us and have pride in our culture,” she said.