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FESTA on pako

By Emily Robinson

Food will take centre stage as the theme for February’s Pako Festa, according to organisers.
Discover Food of the World will celebrate the various cuisines of Geelong’s many enthic communities at the festa on 25 February, Diversitat arts and events manager Luisa LaFornara says.
“We hope to have an even greater diversity of food on offer,” she says.
“One of the highlights of Pako Festa is the food – you walk along the street and you follow your nose.”
The extravagant street parade at this year’s festa will feature around 90 floats and hundreds of performers representing 45 affiliated ethnic communities, Ms LaFornara says.
Sixty other community groups and organisations will also play a part in the event, now in its 35th years. Diversitat, a not-for-profing organisation providing multicultural services in Geelong, stages the event on Pakington Street each year.
Pako Festa has support from local government and State funding as well as “a lot of sponsors”, Ms LaFornara says.
“You’ve got some people that have been involved from the very first event. There’s just so much history – that’s what gives it such strength.”
The colours, sounds, smells and flavours makes Australia’s biggest multicultural festival “a lot to take in in one day”, says Ms LaFornara.
She considers Pako Festa different to other cultural events around Australia
“It’s community owned and driven. I get the pleasure of working with over 30 different local communities, whether they be performing, have food stalls or are involved in the parade.
Diversitat chief Michael Martinez says Pako Festa boasts the “best parade in Geelong”.
“It’s the biggest multi-cultural festival in Australia,” he says.
“The fact it gets so many different cultural communities there is quite unique.”
Mr Martinez likes the fact the event “hasn’t been overly commercialised”.
“It’s a great event. Over the last few years it’s been almost spiritual – the atmosphere is so positive and you see very little bad behaviour.
“It’s all about communities getting together and having fun.”

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