“This is a way for people to share their culture with others,” said Lorena Perez.
This year’s festival incorporated more food than ever before from community kitchens and local restaurants, including newcomer Tasty Burritos, which had customers swarming around its booth throughout the entirety of the five-hour event.
“Food is a language we all speak, because every country has something special they’d like to share,” Aslesen said.
Sometimes, Perez said, people can be afraid to go to Mexican restaurants because they don’t know what to expect or what to order. Saturday’s event was a way to “take the pressure off” and allow them to approach each vendor, ask questions and try something new.
“I think people might not realize how many different cultures there are in Ottumwa,” Aslesen said. “It’s a neat mix. Who knew in little southeast Iowa we would have people from all over the world in our community?”
Not only does the event highlight and celebrate differences between the many cultures, Aslesen said, but it also becomes a way to show their commonalities.
“We all love Ottumwa, and these cultures make it a better place to live,” she said.