Community celebrates 37th annual International Festival - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Community celebrates 37th annual International Festival

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Rain or shine, the community appreciated the city's diverse heritage at the 37th annual Lawton International Festival this weekend. 

People enjoyed food, activities and shopping from over 60 vendors at Elmer Thomas Park. The International festival is held each year to celebrate, help educate and spread awareness about other cultures. There is everything from Thai Food, live music and clothing from different cultures, that you can enjoy.

Learning to come together as one is what Trisha Vernon-Cole, a volunteer at the International Festival, says is the most important thing she has learned growing up in the Lawton community.

"We're all pretty similar," said Vernon-Cole. "We do things differently, but other than that, we're all people. We should get together, and enjoy each other and enjoy each others differences."

Vernon says she's proud of growing up in a community that is so diverse and welcome to different backgrounds. She says it's crucial to learn and be open to different things, especially in a community that has so many different people come here from Fort Sill.

"Too often we're stuck in our own little households," said Vernon-Cole. "It's great the community puts something like this event on their for us to get together and experience it in such an enjoyable atmosphere."

Festival Chairman Bobbie Whitson says there's a variety of activities and food you can enjoy. There's Polynesian dancers, Mexican dancers, Thai food, a Comanche Nation Tee-pee.

"It's really kind of neat and we're excited that they're here," said Whitson. "We also have a new vendor from Wisconsin who's introducing us to Polish Food, so we have that."

Whitson says opportunities like this give people the chance to step out of their comfort zone and make someone feel welcome to Southwest Oklahoma.

"We are known for being a very friendly community, and we want to encourage that," said Whitson. "We want our children to grow up knowing that."

Vernon says we should take advantage of all the people that are here because of the history and diversity they bring. She says just walking around and seeing for yourself can make you open to things and people you never expect.

"I think that's the best way to appreciate a culture," said Vernon-Cole. "We're such a melting pot because of the military installation that a lot of times we're frustrated with each other because we don't know where each other are coming from. We come from different places. We drive differently. We eat differently. We talk differently, but we're all pretty much the same,"

The International festival will wrap up Saturday at 10 p.m. and re-open on Sunday from Noon until 5 p.m.

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