Austin set for a taste of culture

Published 11:34 am Monday, April 11, 2011

Folk dancers take the stage at last year’s Taste of Nations celebration, which organizers say drew more than 1,000 people. This year’s Taste of Nations takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Oak Park Mall. -- Herald file photo

A not-so-little corner of the world is coming to Oak Park Mall next Saturday.

The second annual Taste of Nations will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 16 at the mall. The event, which drew more than 1,000 people in 2010, has grown by leaps and bounds this year.

“We have a lot to be excited about in Austin,” said Kristi Beckman, one of the organizers of this year’s event. “We have a lot of wonderful cultural traditions.”

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About 20 nations will be represented Saturday with food samples and vendors. In addition, there will be live performances, including Ellis Middle School’s mariachi troupe, the local Aztec dance group, members of Neveln Elementary School’s hip hop dance club, and a break dance group from Austin High School, along with a DJ providing music between shows.

“We’re going to have lots of wonderful performances,” said Jake Vela, Welcome Center executive director and Taste of Nations organizer.

Organizers also have partnered with the Week of the Young Child event, so there will be information on family resources and a Mower County sheriff’s squad car and officers to talk to children about what they do.

“It’s really about opening up and learning about our neighbors and sharing our celebrations and traditions with each other,” Beckman said.

The event is free and open to the public. It’s sponsored by the Austin Human Rights Commission, the Help Me Grow committee, Austin Public Schools, Riverland Community College, the Welcome Center and U.S. Bank.