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Lots of Flavor at Local Festival

Annual Multicultural Festival returns to Reston’s Lake Anne.

Those in attendance at this year’s seventh annual Reston Multicultural Festival at Lake Anne may recognize the Cultural Foundation for Children, Inc., a West African drumming and dance group participating in the event. This past April, footage of the group coaxing President Bush to dance and drum during Malaria Awareness Day became a viral video on both television and the internet. And for this year’s festival, the group will be doing the same for local residents as they provide percussion for the day’s festivities and hands-on demonstrations for festivalgoers.

“This is the group that is going to do the drumming for us,” said Bebe Nguyen, director of communications for the Reston Community Center. “We’re very excited having them because the group promotes Western African traditions. And not just President Bush can beat on the drums — they want to invite the audience.”

ACCORDING TO NGUYEN, audience participation is a key focus of this year’s festival. With a series of demonstration tents along the boardwalk of Lake Anne, Nguyen said the event will offer hands-on activities from “jewelry making to lei making.” Other opportunities include multicultural games, Asian crafts, an ongoing ceramics demonstration and the chance to beat on the same drum as President Bush.

“We try to make it as interactive as is possible,” said Nguyen. “This year, which is different from previous years, is to try and get more robust demonstrations throughout the schedule.”

The festival will also feature two performance stages where 20 groups will provide entertainment for the day. Located in front of the Washington Plaza Baptist Church, the Global Stage features some of the louder, livelier groups, such as Andean music with Huk Yawar, Hawaiian dance and music with Halau Ha’a Kea o Mokihana, traditional Celtic music and dance with Celtic Marc and the Chinese drum dance and dragon dance, courtesy of the Asian Community Service Center.

Inside the Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery, a more intimate atmosphere will be created on the smaller Gallery Stage.

“On the Gallery Stage we house performances with lower key groups that might need a quieter atmosphere,” said Linda Ifert, RCC’s technical director for performing and fine arts. Such performances include Eastern European throat singing, traditional Russian folk music, a Japanese tea ceremony and the Traveling Players Ensemble with excerpts from the Moliere play “Sganerelle.”

In addition to a variety of ongoing children’s activities throughout the plaza and a global market located in the flat-lot, the festival also offers a number of food vendors, including Maui Wowi, Ngoc Anh Vietnamese cuisine, a Southern fish fry and food from Lake Anne restaurants Jasmine Café and Tavern on the Lake.

UTILIZING EVERY NOOK of available space in Lake Anne, Nguyen believes the location is a perfect fit for the festival, both in size and ideology.

“Lake Anne has a flavor to it and this keeps with the founders’ vision to have a cultural area,” she said.

Ifert agrees, adding that the area “feels quainter and closer there. Everyone is together,”

Now in its seventh year, Ifert believes the festival, which is presented by the Reston Community Center, Reston Association and Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association, has “definitely grown and gotten more popular every year.”

For Nguyen, who is new to the festival this year, she is simply impressed by the amount of interest from local performance groups.

“This is my first. When I got into the planning process, I was blown away,” she said. “We weren’t able to take every performance group. We have twenty groups and we probably had to turn down just as many. Our goal is to have some of the familiar back, but also to have new groups too.”