Community celebrates diversity

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JEFFERSON CITY — The mid-Missouri community joined together on Saturday to celebrate the various cultures in the area. 

“The United States is kind of a melting pot of different races and different religions and origins and there’s kind of a backlash against multiculturalism in the United States right now. I think that’s going to clear up," said Rev. Dhammaruchi with the Center for Buddhist Development.  "You know, we’re all from somewhere else, that’s why I think that’s really an important event especially in somewhere like mid-Missouri."

The Multicultural Fall Fest was previously put on by the Jefferson City Multicultural Forum. This year, however, the Independent Living Resource Center took over responsibilities. 

"It’s really important for us to be associated with an event like this. It’s multicultural so we’re really celebrating all the cultures here in central Missouri. We have a wide variety of entertainers and booths and we want to make sure we also focus on people with disabilities, which is what we do at Independent Living Resource Center as it really is another culture being a person with a disability,” said Melinda Cardone, the executive director of the Independent Living Resource Center. 

This year's festival brought in more vendors and different entertainers, but remained similar to past years. 

“I think it really, hopefully, spreads awareness that we’re all people who are all part of the community," Cardone said. "We all have things to bring to the table and really it’s an opportunity to learn about each other and have a beautiful day enjoying some of our entertainment." 

Rev. Dhammaruchi said the event allowed a chance for his center to be a part of the community and interact with others. 

Beyond the festival, the center promotes its meditations and services throughout the week with a newsletter. 

For the Independent Living Resource Center, the festival is the largest opportunity to spread awareness of its resources. 

“I think it’s a valuable opportunity really for a lot of businesses and organizations to share with our community all of the things we are doing throughout the year and really the resources we have,” Cardone said. 

Rev. Dhammaruchi also suggested maybe an event like Saturday's should be put on more than once a year. 

This was the festival's 16th year.