PUNTA GORDA — With a population estimated to be 90% white in 2017 by the U.S. Census Bureau, it may be surprising that there’s so much diversity in Charlotte County.

But it’s there, sometimes hidden, or sometimes residents have to look for it.

This weekend, though, many cultures came out and celebrated what makes them diverse, which brought them together.

The second annual International Culture Fest was held Friday and Saturday at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.

“It’s such a diverse community,” said Sushila Cherian. “Most people don’t seem to realize.”

There were roughly 25 groups and organizations with booths at the festival, with thousands of guests sampling food, picking up informational pamphlets and learning about the vast diversity that the area has to offer.

The festival has nearly doubled in size since last year, which was the first of its kind.

Martha Bireda, the executive director of the Blanchard House Museum, which was an event sponsor, was almost in tears leading the banner for the Parade of Nations Saturday morning.

“There’s lots of division in our country right now, but our organization brings people together,” she told the Sun.

The event was presented by The Cultural Heritage Center of Southwest Florida and co-sponsored by Fishermen’s Village, in partnership with the Punta Gorda – Englewood Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This event strives to bring together all cultures, according to Punta Gorda City Council member, Jaha Cummings, and president of the Cultural Heritage Center of Southwest Florida.

To learn more about the Cultural Heritage Center of Southwest Florida, visit www.CulturalHeritageSWFL.org, or call 941-505-0130.

Email: Liz.Hardaway@yoursun.com

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