Friday, June 23, 2000

City to celebrate diversity again

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Vaughn Lewis easily sees a few thousand people at next year's second annual Multicultural Celebration.

        To make that a reality, organizers are quadrupling their budget, planning a marketing blitz and adding several features to the April 28 event, which attracted more than 200 people in March.

        Despite public service announcements and media coverage of the inaugural celebration, many people said they were unaware of the celebration, said Mr. Lewis, director of Hamilton's Human Relations Department.

        “By just having more time and learning from the first year, I really anticipate it's going to be a lot bigger and better this year,” he said.

        Organizers are planning to market the festival via billboards, church fliers, notices inside utility bills and in the media. A working budget of $12,000 has been established, compared to the $3,000 budget for the initial event.

        The festival, which will be on the campus of Miami University in Hamilton, also will be extended from two to six hours, noon to 6 p.m. The event is free for the public, and will feature storytelling, ethnic foods, local entertainment and vendors.

        “We are going to charge for the tents for the vendors, but they will be free to the ethnic and cultural organizations. That will make it more attractive for them to come out,” said Maggie Krey, a coordinator for the Human Relations Department, a primary sponsor of the festival.

        Mr. Lewis said he sees the festival as an avenue “to enlighten, educate and expose people to cultures they're not familiar with. There are so many people in Hamilton who have no idea that there is a growing Hispanic community.

        “A lot of people just don't go to certain parts of town, and they don't know the different cultures and ethnic groups that are here. I think of (the celebration) as a fun way to educate people,” he said.

        Planners said they will contact more than three dozen businesses and organizations seeking sponsors. They also aim to nearly double the number of ethnic and cultural organizations providing literature at booths to 22.

        Mr. Lewis said he conceived the idea for the celebration after taking his family to a multicultural festival in Springfield, Ohio, several years ago.


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