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PHOTOS: More than 35 countries represented in OneWorld Festival’s return to Penticton

‘This is a beautiful thing,’ said Cherry Fernandez from Penticton-based SOICS

The sounds, smells and colours of more than 35 countries were celebrated Saturday, Feb. 25, at the 10th annual OneWorld Festival at Penticton’s Lakeside Resort.

Hosted by South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS), all the diversity Penticton has to offer was on display, with representatives from as close as Mexico to as far as Japan in attendance.

An estimated 1,500 people walked through the Lakeside Resort doors on Saturday to take in all the in-person festivities for the first time since before the pandemic.

“This is our community and the diversity that exists,” said Cherry Fernandez, the executive director of SOICS. “This event encourages people to learn, share with each other and feel that sense of belonging.”

For those in attendance, there was no shortage of options for lunch. Customary dishes from around the world were made available for tasting all afternoon.

“There’s nothing better than food to bring people together,” Fernandez said with a laugh.

It was also a day of storytelling, with those behind each international booth sharing what the day’s celebration meant to them.

“I’m loving this and just so excited to see all the cultures from the region here come together,” said Samuel Ife, a representative from the Association of Nigerians and Africans in the Okanagan.

The room’s performance stage Saturday was headlined by internationally-inspired dance routines.

It was a day for the kids, too.

Not just because of the interactive mini-games available at select booths, but also for the education pieces that were up for grabs.

A trio of girls — aged five, seven and nine — were particularly engaged with Portugal’s booth.

“It’s just so amazing how they were able to learn more about where their family is from,” one of the kids’ grandmothers said. “They all have Portuguese background so for them to see its culture in action is really special.”

Festivities started shortly after 10:30 a.m., with the Lakeside Resort’s upstairs room at capacity by the time 12 p.m. came around.

“This is a beautiful thing and something we want to continue to encourage — that curiosity, welcoming and inclusion that we have,” Fernandez said.

READ MORE: Here’s what’s happening this weekend in Penticton


About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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