“Even though we don’t live in our countries of origin or where our ancestors came from, it is very important to know our roots and connect to them,” said Thalia Condo, a Salt Lake City resident who attended the 2021 Living Traditions Festival kickoff event with her family.
For 35 years, the Salt Lake City Arts Council has celebrated the city’s rich diversity with the Living Traditions Festival. It’s an annual event, this year spread out in a weeks-long series of cultural celebrations that concludes with Saturday’s event at Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City.
Living Traditions is an annual favorite, but was one of the first major events to be cancelled last year because of COVID. For the first time ever, the Salt Lake City Arts Council brought Living Traditions to the West Side, among the most diverse parts of the city, in an event held last month at the International Peace Gardens.
“I was very happy that I was able to attend this festival again,” said Condo, who is originally from Ecuador. “To me Living Traditions is a festival that brings families together and by its very name, motivates us to continue to embrace our roots.” According to organizers, the Living Traditions Festival shares “the richness of our community’s cultural diversity through presentations of dance, music, craft, and culinary arts at innovative in-person and virtual events in 2021.”
The kick-off event last month in Washington Square showcased dancers and musicians from around the world, from places as varied as the Andes in South America to the islands of Samoa. There were Indian Punjabi dancers as well as a Latin salsa band, which closed out the event as festival goers danced.
The food on site was also a smorgasbord from around the world, ranging from Chilean empanadas to Japanese custards, from Syrian halal food to Mexican popsicles. There was also a chance to buy handicrafts from folk artists who have preserved their respective traditions. Other cultural celebrations were held at the Gateway and at Liberty Park.
Saturday's (June 26) event at Washington Square runs from 12 noon until 9pm. The Living Traditions Festival finale will showcase dance and cuisine from Latin America, Polynesia, Asia, Africa and Europe.