Good music, smells from around the world, and rain filled the air as students and local residents came together for Food Fest. On Saturday, Nov. 11, students and the local community relished in diversity and celebrated good food, while recognizing the ability of food to unite and bring together different cultures.
“Food Fest is like the Disneyland of food. Where else can you go and get homemade food from cultures around the world all in one place?” said Kailey Trussel, a senior in psychology from Washington.
Trussel explained how food has great value in an individual’s life. Not only on a physical level, but also in its ability to connect people. “I appreciate its ability to bring people together in a way that words cannot. Food is a universal language, and I speak it fluently.”
BYU-Hawaii clubs and associations came together to share their cultures through food with local community members and BYUH students. Event Supervisor Kehaulani Maruhi, a senior in social work from Tahiti, explained how the event supervisors worked hard to involve all the clubs on campus by having them help set up the event, help out in the kitchen, or by helping to clean up.
This year Food Fest featured 22 different culture clubs that represent countries from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Patrons were able to enjoy adobo from the Philippines, dumplings from Mongolia, and sua fi from Samoa as well as many other diverse dishes. Also featured was Sacred Fish, a local band comprised of a father and his children who regularly perform at the Polynesian Cultural Center marketplace. There was also a bounce house and obstacle course set up for the children to enjoy.
Every year, each club puts in days of hard work and preparation into Food Fest to raise money for their clubs, according to Tseegii Dugar, a sophomore in political science from Mongolia and vice president of the Mongolian club. “We worked so hard all Friday night and Saturday morning to prepare the food we would sell. It was worth it. We sold over 1,500 dumplings and nearly tripled the money we spent on supplies.”
Despite continuous rain that ended the event an hour earlier than planned, Food Fest raised $25,464 for BYUH clubs, only $1,000 less than the previous Food Fest, according to the Student Leadership & Activities Accounting Office. Maruhi expressed her gratitude for those who came out in the rain, because without the support of students and community members the clubs would not be able to raise enough money for Culture Night or other activities.
Grace Everton, a sophomore in biomedicine from California, explained how increased regulations to keep the food clean and healthy for everyone to consume made it more difficult for clubs to participate in Food Fest but despite the challenges there was still a “great turn out.”
Dugar expressed her love for the Food Fest experience, where different cultures and “amazing foods” were all brought together in a small space. “The food is amazing. My favorite was the Healthcare Professionals Club acai bowls. They were filled with healthy ingredients and fresh fruit.”
Dana Usavitch, a sophomore in math education from Arizona, said she was in awe at the ability Food Fest has to teach individuals about different cultures. “Food Fest is incredible because so much of the culture of an individual is defined by food and dancing, so food is a huge part about learning about another’s culture. It was really cool to be able to sample a little bit of everybody’s culture through their food.”
Amanda Hee, a senior in psychology from Maui, explained, “This is my first and last Food Fest. It’s so sad. I have always known about Culture Night, but never too much about Food Fest. I wish I would have known and been coming all these years. The New Zealand Chapter dessert chocolate pudding cake was to die for.”
Emma Mccullough, a BYUH alumni and local resident of Oahu, said, “We do not miss Food Fest. We are 2015 alumni and we come back every single year. Now we have a family and we have to show the kids what BYU-Hawaii culture is all about.”
NOTE: This story's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Dec. 2017 print issue.