Family, Culture and Community Celebrated at Pacific Islander Festival in Elk Grove

The family – Ohana – brought hundreds of people to Elk Grove Regional Park on Saturday to celebrate Polynesian culture and community at the first Pacific Islands Festival.

“When you do events like this, you bring a lot of people into the Polynesian community, but you also meet a lot of families who haven’t seen each other in a long time,” said Adam Imocelda, of Elk Grove, behind The stall. of his clothing company, Hooked on Ohana.

Family, indeed. His wife, Carmela, manned his AK Candle Co. booth next door.

“You come to an event like this and you see your cousin or your aunt or someone you haven’t seen in a long time,” Imocelda said. “Ohana is really big at these events.”

It was a great Saturday for the inaugural festival featuring Polynesian dancers, music and food throughout the day. But the most important thing was the rapprochement of cultures.

“We really wanted to raise awareness about the different cultures of the Pacific Islands,” said organizer Vanessa Moa of the Northern California Pacific Islander Organization.

Entertainment, workshops and more, from hula to clay work to making murals, were just some of the tools available Saturday to teach culture, she said.

“We have Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji – all kinds – to come and share with our community.”

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up a small but steadily growing community in Elk Grove.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the percentage of Elk Grove’s population identifying as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander increased from 1.2% in 2010 to 1.5% in 2020, or about 2,600 people. in a city of nearly 180,000 inhabitants.

Salen Singh and his wife Raksha are two of the 2,600 people. Residents of Elk Grove for 22 years, the couple were dressed in customary Fijian tapas for the occasion on Saturday.

“It’s the premier festival in Northern California. We’re originally from the Fiji Islands, so we’re excited to see Elk Grove offer something like this,” Salen Singh said.

“We wanted to bring the community together so we could share culture through dance, music and the arts,” Herrera said. “Our goal is to be able to provide the resources and support for Pacific culture. Northern California hasn’t really had an event to raise awareness and really bring the culture together. Hopefully this will continue to grow.

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