Local street fairs offer culture and diversity

Sunny skies and cooler temperatures make for the perfect setting for a variety of different fairs and festivals around Orange County.

For example, during Labor Day weekend, the city of Orange host their annual Orange International Street Fair (OISF), which was held in the Old Town Orange Plaza from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. This year’s fair theme was “Globally Good.”

Every year, the street fair brings together family and friends in Orange County to celebrate a wide array of foods, music and cultures from around the world. Lebanon, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Greece and Mexico are just a few of the many countries represented at this event. At the OISF, vendors from all over the Orange County area come to prepare and sell foods originating from a particular country.

“[My favorite booth is] definitely Mexico,” said freshman Mia Kolesar, who attends the event every year and is of Mexican descent. “I know it’s simple and it’s not exotic like something from Germany… but I don’t like to stray away from what I love to eat.”

This past year consisted of many vendors volunteering and selling products in order to raise proceeds to support churches, schools and nonprofit organizations. A popular booth in the Japan section was manned by the Orange Coast Gakuen, a nonprofit Japanese language school. Located in Huntington Beach and consisting of 150 students, this school gives children the opportunity to study the Japanese language and culture. With a line rapping around the vendors’ entire tent, teachers, parents and students cooked up Japanese cuisine to raise funds for their school. The funds are put towards different necessities such as maintenance and events. 

“Well we have to rent our building, so that goes to part of it, but it is really to fund the whole school,” said Bob Uriu, the language school’s chair of the board of trustees. “It’s not so much education but we have to do a lot cultural events, festivals, and all of those cost money.”

 In addition to providing an opportunity for local organizations to fundraise, the fair also provides a way for individuals to share their cultures.

“At our church … many of the parishioners are from Lebanon. Lebanon is a country in the Middle-East, and we feel like most people who aren’t familiar with that part of the world have an inaccurate idea of our culture, where we’re from, and what we do,” said Alex Lazo, a volunteer at the St. John Maron Catholic Church in Orange. “We thought that this was a great way for us to spread our culture, hospitality and cuisine that’s first and foremost…”

The Orange International Street Fair offers much more than a savory experience for visitors to partake in. Overall, according to many vendors and attendees, it serves as a vehicle to unite the entire community.

“It definitely brings people together,” Lazo said. “Even though it takes place in Orange people from all over Orange County and beyond come to participate. I think that it’s a great family event, no one is required to spend any money they can just walk around and go to the various stores open. It’s a great community building event and there aren’t too many of them these days. This keeps the city of Orange on the map.”

Although the Orange County International Street Fair only takes place once a year, there are many other upcoming local fairs that students may attend. Such events include:

  • Irvine Global Village Festival: Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Orange County Great Park; for more information visit https://legacy.cityofirvine.org/globalvillage/info/default.asp
  • Music Tastes Good Music Festival: Sept. 29 at Marina Green Park; for more information visit https://mtglb.co
  • SoCal VegFest 2018: Oct. 20 and 21 at the OC Fair and Event Center; for information visit https://www.socalvegfest.org