Cape Cod Multicultural Festival has food, art, activities, hungry help

The worlds of culture and cuisine will come together on Saturday, September 17, for the first Bass River Multicultural Food Festival, which is designed to offer food, art and activities as a celebration for the community “in body, mind and spirit. “

The festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Bass River area of ​​South Yarmouth, is hosted by two neighboring nonprofits: the Cape Cod Cultural Center at 307 Old Main St.; and Family Table Collaborative (FTC), located just a short walk away at 1338 Route 28, in the former Riverway Lobster House, the new home of the collaborative.

Five food vendors will be stationed at each location, offering food samples from a variety of cuisines, including Brazilian, Italian, Jamaican, Cajun and Mexican. Some will be from food trucks, some from local restaurants and chefs, and food partners who prepare weekly meals from co-op kitchens. Cultural Center Chef Joe Ciszynski will add a taste of France and have cold ice cream sundaes from a neighborhood shop in Bass River.

A wristband also admits the wearer to all of the day’s activities, including live cooking demonstrations in the FTC kitchens and admission to the Cultural Center’s last weekend’s “Outside In, Upside Down” exhibit that draws families to center all summer long. There will be cash bars in every location.

Walking back and forth between the two centers, says center executive director Molly Demeulenaere, will also give visitors the chance to enjoy family activities along the way, including drumming, salsa dancing and interactive art projects. “It’s all about participation,” she says, noting that the community festival is “about the whole person.”

For Demeulenaere, the festival offers ways for both organizations to “achieve something together. We can learn from each other.” It’s also an opportunity for Cape Codders to get to know the Bass River area better, with its historic homes, scenic river views and local businesses. “Let’s cheer up our community,” she says.

Feeding the community for more than a day

The two organizations are neighbors in another important way. Both hope their collaboration will be the first of many joint community projects to come. Jeni Wheeler, co-founder of the co-op, hopes the day will be “fun and welcoming” and a way for the public to learn more about what her organization has done and hopes to do.

Food projects are at the heart of FTC’s mission on Cape Cod. The effort began a year and a half ago as a rapid response to community issues of food insecurity that came to the fore during the pandemic. Wheeler, a culinary expert and entrepreneur, teamed up with Harry Henry of the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator to start a community food project.

They partnered with chefs from the American Culinary Federation and began creating weekly meals to distribute to food insecure families and seniors, a widespread challenge that became clear during the pandemic.

Local farms, the Cape Cod Fishermen’s Trade Alliance and area restaurants and businesses donated ingredients that allowed the co-op to prepare hundreds of meals that were then distributed using volunteer drivers and borrowed trucks.

They soon discovered, Wheeler says, that concerns about food insecurity were not limited to the time period of the pandemic. The widespread lack of proper diet and healthy food has been a long-standing problem that the group is now looking to address for the future.

In addition to weekly food preparation and distribution at hub locations that include the Hyannis Community and Youth Center, Wheeler teaches classes that help educate people about healthy eating. Last fall, the FTC took ownership of the former Riverway Lobster House, a 2-acre property that Wheeler says is becoming “a food security center for Cape Cod.” The partner has so far provided more than 100,000 prepared meals within the Cape community.

“Healthy, nutritious food is a necessity,” says Wheeler—it’s “food as medicine.” And allowing the public to see FTC’s new facilities and learn more about what Wheeler calls “their goal to end hunger in the Cape community” is another bonus for Saturday’s festival organizers.

To eat at the Bass River Multicultural Food Festival

When: From 11:00 to 15:00, September 17

Where: Together at the Family Table Collaborative, 1338 Route 28 and the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 307 Old Main St., both in South Yarmouth

Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door (discount for ages 6 and under)

Reservations and information: https://www.bassriverfoodfestival.com/ or 508-394-7100

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