Artesia International Street Fair & Diversity Festival shows inaccurate representation of community


Gustavo Olivares-Molina

A queue at the front go Go-Gator attraction ride. Ferris wheel at the background along with Tornado, a spinning ride. Oct. 2, 2021.

Gustavo Olivares-Molina

The eighth Annual International Street Fair and Diversity Festival was held at Pioneer Blvd on Oct. 2. The one-day event was intended to celebrate racial and ethnic diversity by promoting businesses in the area but fell short of their intended goal.

International food options were disappointing with what people could purchase inside the street closure. It gave an inaccurate representation of diversity that only benefits one monolithic group, the Indian restaurants and businesses of Pioneer Blvd.

The city of Artesia represents more than just one dominant group. Looking at Census data, statistics show that roughly 1/3 of people who identify as Asian alone, live in the city, yet none of the food stalls reflected the other groups which include Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, or Filipino.

An inconvenience for visitors who assume that the event would promote Asian cuisine, or at least not disproportionately take away economic revenue from neighboring ethnic restaurants outside the four-block zone.

The city of Artesia implemented the same mask face rules from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, requiring all participants at outdoor events to be masked unless they are eating or drinking.

For an event promoting food diversity, there was no diversity represented only one Indian food vendor being the same restaurant that operated across the sidewalk. The event was a discreet boost to attract customers to that sector.

Commercially viable food such as; tacos, tortas, Nashville style fried chicken, and Filipino Ube desserts made me skeptical as to why some choices were made with the selection of food.

Could there be a conflict of interest among restaurants? Perhaps businesses do not want competition, or not enough vendors want to participate?

An international beer garden brought some aspects of culture that gave it a pass, but overall disappointed with the selection of food inside an event that promoted diversity but did not represented it at all. After all food is a part of cultural identity.

Besides that issue, people can enjoy themselves with the list of activities such as cultural performances, contests, carnival games, rides, a photogenic pumpkin patch, and live entertainment that gave the bite-sized festival vibrant life.

Live performances showcased various cultures that encompass the surrounding areas.

Japanese taiko drummers, Mexican folkloric performers, Polynesian hula dancers and other various acts made the street fair feel cheerful and colorful.

In addition to performances there were apparel vendors, the majority marketed for the Indian woman, this made the streets of Pioneer Blvd. have a pop of color with beautiful embroidered sarees, along with other ethnic fashions, captured the essence of traditional ethnic wear.

Swarovski crystals, bold bright silk patterns, blouses with detailed sequin designs. The vast collection of elegant jewelry provoke visual stimulation for anyone passing by casually to stop and admire artisanal craftsmanship.

Indian flower garlands were also commonly featured as decorations in this festival, often used for religious ceremonies, this special type of floral garland is a sign of respect within the community as some vendors explained to anyone unaware of the cultural aspect tied to them.

One missed opportunity that would have been a nice addition was henna drawing services similar to face painting at festivals. People can purchase henna supplies inside the stores, but that would require exploration and knowledge on how to apply it themselves.

Despite the festival’s efforts to promote different cultures, the blatant marketing technique in attracting visitors to shop locally within Little India was obvious from an outsider’s perspective.