Multi Cultural Bazaar to Unite & Highlight Lodi's Diversity


Lodi can seem pretty homogenous a lot of the time. It doesn’t seem like we have a huge amount of cultural diversity, but we really do! In my experience, I felt like Lodi was all just German, Italian, and Mexican. I didn’t even realize we have a humongous Filipino population until recently when I started working in healthcare! We all get used to seeing the people around us and it feels like that’s our entire town, but in reality we have a lot more diversity than we realize. The Lodi Chamber sees a lot of these different cultures because they work with so many of these different businesses. They decided a couple of years ago that they needed a way to highlight all these different cultures and bring us together, so they created the Multicultural Bazaar.

May 18th will be the 2nd Annual Multicultural Bazaar. It will be at that big, beautiful Sikh temple in Lodi. You know the one… that beautiful building on the corner of West Lane and Armstrong, that’s the Sikh temple. I, for one, am very excited to see the inside of this beautiful structure.

Marina Navarte at the Lodi Chamber of Commerce is the one who decided to start this event. About 3 years ago the City of Lodi hosted Los Dios de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday that translates to Day of the Dead. When they couldn’t do the event again, she saw an opportunity for the Lodi Chamber to step up. “Everyone loved the Los Dios de Los Muertos. They  [the organizers] got great feedback from everyone, vendors and patrons. It was really successful,” Marina explained. Marina was part of the committee that put the event together so she got to see the benefits of this event first-hand.

“The year after that I was told that they [the city] couldn’t do it anymore,” continued Marina. “I was broken hearted because the community loved it. Being Filipino and having to go around the country, I thought we needed something like this. At the chamber, we want to be your champion for the community to showcase the diversity we have here in Lodi. We’re not going to be called ‘livable, lovable, Lodi’ if we’re just going to focus all of our energy on one group. I thought, ‘Why don’t we bring everyone in on one day to showcase all these different cultures to highlight them, to learn from them. Learn about where I came from because I want to learn about where you came from.’ It’s promoting an understanding of who we all are and who we are surrounded by.”

When Marina brought the idea to Pat Patrick, the Chamber CEO, he was all for it. He saw the opportunity for this event to help the Chamber promote their mission, which is to help businesses succeed and to be champions for the community. “When you look at our community today, we don’t all look the same,” said Pat. While Lodi traditionally has a lot of German and Italian influence, we have a beautifully growing and diverse population with people from all over. “We have people here from all other nations. The success of any community is how well the people work together. How well they trust each other, live side by side, and understand each other. I look at this as an opportunity to bring a mosaic of the community together to be one community. I think that’s accomplished when we know more about each other. When we learn about each other we know about each other, and I think this is going to pay off in huge dividends in the future the more we do this.”

So what can you expect at this event? A lot! “We had Hispanic performers, Filipino dancers, Japanese food, Italian food, Indian food. You name it, we had it,” said Marina talking about last year’s event. “We had beautiful baskets from Africa, jade, and clothing from the Philippines. Things you don’t normally see.” This year there will be dancers and art from other cultures. Beautiful baskets, some even from the different countries themselves, and of course, food.

The thing I’m looking the forward to the most, and I mentioned several times during my interview with Marina and Pat, is the food. I strongly believe that old saying that the best way to other’s hearts is through their stomachs. In my undergrad I majored in history (I thought I was going to be going into education, turns out I don’t have the patience). Throughout history, one of the best ways you can see different groups of people begin to work together is by sharing their cultures, and the easiest way to share culture is through food.

Thank you to the Lodi Chamber for putting together this event. Any event to bring our community closer and learn more about our neighbors is definitely good news! If you’re looking for a family friendly event this Saturday, check it out and get to know more about the people who make up our livable, lovable city.

Cultural Bazaar, Saturday, May 18th, 9:00am to 3:00pm

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