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Youth dancers from Escamilla Entertainment perform on the festival's main stage. (PHOTO: Adam Carr)

Annual Silver City International Festival draws large crowds

Mamie's Bar and Grill, 3300 W. National Ave., served food and beverages while a band played and people danced. Children drew on the sidewalk with chalk and the two stages featured local musicians and dancers, including the Nefertari African Dance Company. Artists Working in Education (A.W.E) offered free art activities.

On a warm and sunny September afternoon, hundreds of people gathered along West National Avenue for the sixth annual Silver City International Festival.

Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN) hosted the festival, which took place on a section of West National Avenue between South 33rd and 35th Streets.

The Nefertari African Dance Company performs at the festival. (PHOTO: Lydia Slattery)

Gisela Ortega, community outreach coordinator at LBWN, said she was pleased with the turnout of more than 2,000 people, the largest since the event began six years ago.

"(The festival) celebrates the cultural diversity of the Silver City neighborhood. It's an opportunity for neighbors to come together to get to know each other," Ortega said. "It's also an opportunity for the business owners to meet the neighbors" and allows people from outside Silver City to meet people from the neighborhood, she added.

Therese Toben, an artist who lives in Silver City, set up a table at the festival covered with paints, glitter, markers and other art supplies that she donated. People of all ages gathered around the table to create their own art. Toben was one of many vendors participating in the event.

"This is an art make-and-take. You use what's available to make art with whatever is available and then you take it home," Toben said. "It's always very exciting to watch people in their art process and see them go from a cautious place to an adventurous place."

"I think it's time well spent," Toben said.

Nelson Lopez, a Silver City resident and MC of the festival, introduced the bands and dancers on stage. "I invite people to try new things like new foods and make new friends. It's my thing. I like to try new things." He said he tried all the food at the festival.

"This is called an international festival because this is an international avenue," Lopez said. "We have different vendors from all different places."

Vendors included Tudo Sabor Brasil, serving traditional Brazilian food, Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant, which sold steak and pork tacos, and Asian International Market, which offered papaya salad.

"Silver City is an up-and-coming neighborhood. It's a true gem," Ortega said.

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