By Cassidy Klein
Linda Vista Multicultural Fair celebrates the diversity of its neighborhood
Linda Vista’s rich history will be the theme of the 33rd annual Linda Vista Multicultural Fair and Parade taking place on April 28. Fair-goers will get a chance to explore the community’s history while eating international foods, watching cultural performances and riding carnival rides.
“Linda Vista has a history of diverse cultures that contribute to its beauty,” said Lauren Garces, fair coordinator. “We aim to promote all of these shared histories, traditions and customs at the fair for future generations and other communities to learn from.”
In addition to the parade, rides, booths and entertainment, this year’s fair also includes a History Pavilion to go along with the fair’s theme, “Our Stories.” The pavilion will showcase a collection of photos and stories from Linda Vista community members over the past 75 years since Linda Vista was founded during WWII.
Janet Kaye, the board president of the fair committee, has been involved in planning the fair since 1984 when it first began. At that time, Linda Vista had waves of Asian immigrants moving in due to the Vietnam War and the affordable housing offered in the community.
“We recognized that we weren’t talking to our new Asian neighbors,” Kaye said. “They were very shy and very quiet, very reserved. So we voted to have a festival. Because we had a language barrier, people brought food. We had many different foods, very exotic foods as well as hamburgers and hotdogs.”
Since then, Linda Vista has the fair each year to celebrate diversity — a diversity that defines and fills the community with multiple ethnicities and 22 recorded languages and dialects.
“I joke about when people decide to put on a ‘cultural diversity fair’ because we bandy these words around because they sound good,” said Kaye. “They have to import the stuff in, but it’s like, people, we live it 24/7. This is just a real, authentic cultural area. Even though we don’t talk to one another in languages, we can share the food and the fun.”
Noli Zosa, the parade coordinator, said the fair also provides an opportunity for University of San Diego (USD) students to interact with their Linda Vista community.
“There’s a difference between USD, which is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, located right here in Linda Vista, and parts of Linda Vista that are a lower economic community,” Zosa said. “So it’s just a chance for the two parts of Linda Vista to come together and not be intimidated.”
This one-day fair may not solve all the problems in the community, but according to Kaye, it is a day when everyone can come together and celebrate at a “nonthreatening venue.”
“People [in the community] aren’t familiar with one another, and [at the fair] we’re all on the street together,” she said. “And you see these kids sitting on the curb watching the parade and there’s a black kid and an Asian kid and a white kid and they’re not afraid of one another, they talk to one another, and that’s what’s refreshing.”
Around 15,000 attendees are expected at the fair and parade this year. The parade is a mile-long spectacle of noise and color, with various marching bands, musical acts, dancers and other performers.
“These are ethnic dances that people are not going to be able to witness in any other venue,” Kaye said. “And it’s free. People can sit on the grass and have something to eat or drink and just sit there and watch this unusual music. There’s a flavor for everybody.”
In addition to food vendors, the fair also has various nonprofit and community vendors offering free services. There is also a Kids Zone and three stages with continuous live music and entertainment.
Kaye hopes that at this year’s fair, attendees will hear some “fascinating stories” about Linda Vista’s history and gain greater appreciation for the uniqueness of the neighborhood.
“We’re happy we get to close the Linda Vista block down every year together and present Linda Vista’s truly diverse culture,” Garces said, “and all the reasons we should celebrate it.”
— Cassidy Klein is an editorial intern at San Diego Community News Network, the parent company of Mission Valley News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.