The annual Living Traditions Festival returned to Salt Lake City’s Library Square on May 19, providing an artistic, performative platform to 85 groups of diverse traditions and cultures.
During the three-day festival, presented in collaboration between the Salt Lake City Arts Council and Utah Division of Arts and Museums, visitors could watch dance performances and musical talent at three different stages. Participating groups included Ballet Folklorico Eck Juvenil, Salt Lake Capoeira and the Thai Association of Utah, among others.
“It’s really exciting,” said Eve Bradshaw, a Thai dance performer at the festival. “I moved from Texas, where I helped with the Thai community, [and now I live in] Utah … I studied Thai drama and dance for six years – it’s fun for me to keep the culture going.”
In addition to witnessing performances, visitors participated in workshops where they created cultural pieces – such as Mexican piñatas and paper flowers, Chinese calligraphy and Ukrainian nesting dolls – and partook in dishes of various origins.
Professional artists and craftsmen also put their work on display. Visitors could, for example, pick up a handmade bone and wood carving, made by group South Pacific Island Art, or an intricate Peruvian weaving by Ecologic Arts.
The festival screened a collection of shorts from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which were enjoyed by attendees like Travis Eberhard and April Makgoeng.
“It makes me happy to get to know different cultures that I wouldn’t get to know otherwise,” Eberhard said. “Seeing artwork from all over the world is a good reminder that we have some cool stuff here.”
Makgoeng, currently visiting from Pennsylvania, agreed with Eberhard. She enjoyed the shorts being screened, and particularly took note of the cuisine.
“We purposely went to a whole bunch of food booths to sample everything,” Makgoeng said. “It was enjoyable to have a taste of foods from around the world … the festival is a good reminder of the diversity [that exists] in Utah.”