Multicultural community: Gaston County, Gastonia host arts experience, celebrates diversity

Gaston County and Gastonia will team up Saturday, March 26, to celebrate the different cultures and backgrounds of the people who live here. The Gaston Multicultural Arts Experience, or Gaston MAX, will take place 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, March 26 at the Rotary Pavilion in downtown Gastonia. The event will highlight the different cultures that makeup Gaston County, said Dandria Bradley, the county's deputy communications director and one of the event's organizers

"People come and live in Gaston County because they want to experience the tradition we have of taking care of one another," said Bradley. The event will celebrate the many cultures found across Gaston County through food, art showcases, performances, live music and more.  Bradley says she has always dreamed of hosting a literary arts festival for the community dating back to when she was program coordinator for Gaston County Public Libraries.

"Once I transitioned to my current role in 2019, I learned that Christine (Ingle) and Mayor (Walker) Reid wanted to do something similar so Christine and I co-founded Gaston MAX," said Bradley. Ingle works as the city's events planner. Gaston MAX offers an opportunity for the county to celebrate its growing cultures, Bradley says.

The event will include food and drink vendors like the central European Strudelteig food truck, the vegan Taza Foods, A Taste of Hawaii, the Ethiopian Mogogo Eatery food truck and more. Performances include a French mime, henna art by Naseera Fazil of Cabarrus County, an origami workshop booth, African drum demonstrations and more. Other visual and cultural arts booths include custom designs by Peddlers Farmhouse Designs LLC, jewelry by Splash of Kuteness by Keya and more. 

The Gaston County Public Health Department will also be present offering free vaccinations to those that are interested.  "Given where we are as a society as a nation, I think we need something like this," said Bradley. "For many years we've been negatively focused on our differences when our differences makes us all special." Bradley hopes the event brings people together and allows community members to enjoy one another.

"I've really enjoyed meeting more artists in the area through collaborating with Dandria," said Ingle, the city's event planner. "We want to grow bigger every year with this event and this is just the start."

Ingle says she's excited to taste different foods that aren't normally found in Gaston County.

Reach Janiya Winchester at 704-869-1842 or [email protected]