2nd annual Multicultural Festival held at Ogletree Gap Park

By BRITTANY FHOLER 
Cove Leader-Press 

The Copperas Cove Five Hills Scholarship Pageant royalty held the second annual Multicultural Festival Saturday afternoon at Ogletree Gap Park. 
The festival began with a Parade of Nations, made of the entertainment groups led by Mayor Bradi Diaz and the Five Hills Royalty members through the vendors and back to the pavilion. 
This year’s festival benefitted Hope Mommies Central Texas, a non-profit dedicated to “bring the hope of Christ to bereaved mothers and families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss,” according to their website. 
Ms. Five Hills Lorianne Valois, who headed the event, selected that charity as part of her platform of service, which is pregnancy and infant loss awareness. Valois lost her newborn son just hours after he was born in September 2017. 
“Being that it’s the second year, and of course there’s a new Ms. Five Hills this year, we kind of geared the festival towards our community service platform, so not only is our goal to have a multicultural festival in Copperas Cove to bring diversity, especially since we are so diverse being so close to Fort Hood,” Valois said. “The other role is to have vendor proceeds and then the proceeds from raffle tickets sold today to be given to my charity of choice, which my community service platform is pregnancy and infant loss awareness, so all the money donated from the vendors and the raffles will be donated to Hope Mommies Central Texas. That’s an organization that helped me through my loss after losing my son, so I would like to give back to them and be able to help other women and families who have experienced the greatest loss.”
Last year marked the inaugural year for the festival devoted to highlighting the different diverse cultures in the area. Headed by Ms. Five Hills Ashley Coombs, with former Senior Ms. Rabbit Fest and Rabbit Fest Ambassador Edith Natividad as co-chair. Proceeds from last year’s festival went to Coombs’ charity of choice, Communities in Schools, to help fund program fees for extracurricular programs for students in need. 
Natividad returned this year as co-chair for the second year and was also the entertainment coordinator, signing up 12 different entertainment options, from individual singers and musicians to dance groups. 
The entertainment lineup began with guitarist Mailakai Avi and included the Arum Missionary Praise Team, singer Alba Garcia, Puerto Rican Kids Dancers, Poly-Mic Dance Group (which Natividad is a member of), Ka Pa’awai O Manaukea Hula Troup, Grupo Folklorico Estrellas de Panama, Tahitian Fitness, Siva Ori Polynesia, the Central Texas Bellydance Association, Shaolin Wushu Kung Fu and Baila Pacifica Entertainment. 
In addition to the entertainment, there were 34 vendors including food vendors, commercial vendors (Scentsy, Mary Kay, etc.), informational booth vendors such as local organizations, and cultural ware vendors selling handmade items. 
Although Valois wasn’t able to attend last year’s festival, she said she knew it was going to be a major project to put on again, so she worked with Coombs and got lots of advice. 
“The main goal was to make sure we had a lot of vendors where people would want to come out and enjoy the event with the vendors and the entertainment, and so we started this process back in May,” Valois said. 
As the royalty attended various festivals and entered their float in many parades, they also talked to vendors and spread the word about the Multicultural Festival. 
“Killeen has probably a festival every weekend, whereas Cove not so much,” Valois said. “So, you have the German Sausage Fest and then you have Krist Kindl Markt but nothing else as far as representing other cultures in our area, so that was the thing with the Multicultural Fest, being able to bring everybody in together and in hopes to kind of grow it and get other people on board, so years from now, this event will be a lot bigger than it is today.”
Grey Zachary found out about the Multicultural Fest last year and came back again this year. 
“The dancers are absolutely why I came back,” Zachary said, as the Central Texas Bellydance Association performed in the pavilion. “The performances are terrific.”’
Zachary said her 10-year-old and 9-year-old remembered the dances from last year and wanted to see them again. 
Zachary added that she noticed more variety with the vendors, especially the food vendors, which included Kona Ice, Las Palapas Mexican Grill, Lowe’s Legs, Frigid Frog and Big Dog BBQ. 
“I’m so thankful. We want to experience these things too, without having to drive so far, and this is the perfect park for it, so I would love to see more and more,” Zachary said. “And honestly, I would love to see more people come out and enjoy these things. The more interest, the more people involved, the more we’re going to be able to have. I love it.”

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