Food Festival Celebrates Bethel's Diversity

Aug 21, 2017

Six to seven hundred Bethelites decided to participate in the Taste of Bethel Ethnic Food Festival this past weekend at the Cultural Center. KYUK’s Christine Trudeau brings us this tableside report.


Enchiladas, Welsh pasties, Iranian samosas and kotlets, Filipino mango floats, and Creole gumbo with shrimp were just a number of the delicious homemade dishes available, most of it selling fast at the Taste of Bethel Ethnic Food Festival. Many booths sold out, raising over $4,000 – profits of which went directly back to the home chefs.


Event organizer Reyne Athanas decided to take advantage of Bethel’s diverse community and build an event which celebrated the multicultural nature of the town through food.


“I am blown away by how successful this is. I mean, this is way more people than I thought we were gonna get, so I’m thrilled,” said Athanas. “I can tell it’s gonna be an annual event.”


There was a lot to choose from - over 18 tables to be exact.


“I think it’s really nice if we have this event,” said Akram Didari, from Iran. Didari moved to Bethel back in 2005 as a newlywed. She currently teaches pre-school for the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Her samosas and kotlets went quickly.


“Alaska is a very diverse place, and it’s really good that everybody get together and get to know each other better and enjoy each other's food,” said Didari.


In the difficult times of racism and violence facing the nation, State Representative Zach Fansler says that Bethel is doing what it does best by holding events like this.


“It’s important to spread those messages of acceptance and of love and working together as a collective, as a state,” said Fansler. “Goodness knows we could do more of that on a state level, and certainly on a national level.”