Explore diversity at CultureFest

October means fall, pumpkins and barely-there costumes, but for the past 14 years, it has also meant Cal Poly’s annual CultureFest. This Sunday is no exception.

More than 30 campus and community cultural organizations including, Omega Zi Delta, Chi Delta Theta and the Chinese Student Association (CSA), will celebrate diversity at Mitchell Park with performances and activities. There will also be a kid zone where kids can learn about cultural diversity through crafts.

Biochemistry senior and CultureFest chair Cindy Nguyen said she wants to spread cultural awareness to the community as well as the campus.

This is the first year the festival, put on by the Cal Poly Multicultural Center, is going county-wide.

Nguyen and co-chair Andrea Magsaysay start planning the festival during spring quarter and work right up to the big day.

“As a committee, we try our best to really make this event fun and draw people out,” Nguyen said.  “This is a free public event that we put on for the students of Cal Poly, as well as the San Luis Obispo community.”

Nguyen, who has been on the CultureFest committee for three years, said she is very enthusiastic about spreading cultural diversity and awareness, and saw the committee as an opportunity to get more involved on campus.

“I have a passion for it,” she said.  “I want to try my best to carry on with the tradition while also making it better.”

CSA is one of the many clubs participating in this year’s event, and will have an informational booth set up for visitors.  Its Lion Dance team and hip-hop dance group Take Out Kidz will also perform at the event.

“CultureFest is a great way to showcase our cultural clubs, as well as promote cultural awareness in not only the Cal Poly community but also San Luis Obispo as a whole,” said Michelle Ong, CSA secretary.

CultureFest began approximately 14 years ago with two cultural greek organizations, Omega Xi Delta and Chi Delta Theta, the Asian-American interest fraternity and sorority, respectively.

“That means we are a sorority bound by sisterhood, community service, academics, social aspects and of course cultural awareness,” member of the Chi Delta Theta sorority Allysa Giron said.  “It doesn’t mean you have to be Asian.”

Though it’s been going on since the 90s, only in the past five years has the event really been something students and community members have come to expect, Nguyen said.

“CultureFest is one of the most important events to our fraternity,” Omega Xi Delta president Touraj Yari said.  “With both food and performances, the community gets a taste of all the diversity Cal Poly has to offer.”

Omega Xi Delta has won best overall food for their Korean BBQ several times, Yari said.

“Although we didn’t win last year, we are prepared to bring our A-game this year to reclaim the title,” he said.

Most of the clubs and organizations use CultureFest as an opportunity to raise funds.  Sometimes, the profits raised at the event fund all the club’s events throughout the year. This year, Chi Delta Theta will prepare and sell fried cream cheese wontons, as well as operate a craft table for kids to make magnets.

“The fundraising profit goes toward funding the events we hold and participate in throughout the year,” Chi Delta Theta member Aubri Sanchez said.

CultureFest is run completely by student volunteers.  The event starts at noon on Sunday, Oct. 16 at Mitchell Park and ends at 5 p.m. it is free to the public.