ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For the first time since 2019, the ‘Local Colors Festival’ was back in Roanoke’s Elmwood Park on Saturday, celebrating inclusion, diversity, and multi-cultural understanding.
Nearly 25 different countries were represented through food, drinks, and crafts at the festival on Saturday, May 21.
“I think it’s important for everyone to learn more about their neighbors and learn about the diversity we have right here in our valley,” said Courtney Campbell, director of the Local Colors board.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the festival has either been held virtually or in a different location. This year’s event — which operated under the theme “Bring it Back Home,” recognizing the first return of the festival in its full glory in years — had a great turnout, Campbell says.
“While we might come from different backgrounds, we all love the same things, don’t we? We love watching a good performance, we love eating great food, we love doing activities and just being in fellowship with each other,” said Campbell, “so it’s a wonderful opportunity to do that in the midst of what can seem like a crazy time.”
It certainly is a chaotic time for a Ukrainian named Inna Payne. She still has family overseas and says events like this are vital to helping gather the community’s support for her country.
“All together, we can make difference, we can stop this war, and we can help people to survive because Ukrainian people are very thankful to American people who support in any way they can,” said Payne.
Payne says the people of Roanoke are amazing and so is the city.
Along with the vendors, 14 different performing artist groups took the stage.
“The dances were like electricity. I had chills the entire time, it was so cool,” said festivalgoer Alexis Whitt.