Thousands of people pack Elmwood Park for return of Local Colors Festival

It’s a tradition that returns after a halt from the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of people packed Elmwood Park Saturday to embrace diverse cultures across the Roanoke Valley at the Local Colors Festival.

ROANOKE, Va. – Thousands of people packed Elmwood Park Saturday to embrace diverse cultures across the Roanoke Valley at the Local Colors Festival.

Kicking off with the Parade of Nations, each country was introduced as they raised their flags up high.

It’s a tradition that returns after a halt from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are really happy to be in Elmwood, where we have had it for many years,” Local Colors Board of Directors President Courtney Campbell said. “So I think people are really excited to be out today.”

More than 40 vendors piled in the streets and park to sell clothes, jewelry and other handmade crafts.

Lenai Clegg, the owner of Culture Ethnic Shop, offered African and Native American influenced pieces at her booth to help people connect closer to their roots and heritage.

“When you learn more about your own culture, it opens you up to be able to love yourself and therefore being able to love others,” she said. “I feel like Local Colors is doing just that.”

But food lured in the most people. From savory Mexican elotes to sweet Dutch pancakes, a taste for flavors created the longest lines.

Neil Deshmukh with Nawab Indian Cuisine was eager to offer rice, naan bread and chicken tikka masala at the festival to show people don’t have to travel far for some Indian classics.

“Chicken tikka masala is the most popular dish in the restaurant and it’s actually England’s national dish as well,” he said.

Music and performances made people pause to learn about their neighbors and their backgrounds.

With the Virginia is for Lovers sign standing at the edge of the park, Lisa Spencer, the executive director of Local Colors, said she wants people to remember Roanoke is a welcoming city.

“I think that’s what makes Roanoke so special because it’s a small city that has this big beautiful diversity.”


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Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.