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“You Can Be You Here”: FusionFest aims to Celebrate Central Florida’s Diversity


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FusionFest 2018. Photo courtesy of FusionFest

Through a parade, food vendors and arts, FusionFest wants to celebrate and spread awareness of all the heritages that are a part of central Florida. Thali Sugisawa, Business Maven of the festival and Terry Olson, Chief Instigator for the festival sat with Matthew Peddie to talk about the festival and the central Florida identity.

Sugisawa says that although we may feel that every culture lives in silos, she believes “We can bring everyone together to celebrate not only their heritage, but also diffusion of different cultures and how we become one central Floridian.”

The idea for a multicutural celebration dates back to meetings in 2016. Terry Olson says FusionFest has a unique goal compared to other culture fests he has seen.

“But we haven’t really found any that have the focus we do; that’s about, ‘okay now we are here together, how are we influencing each other?’ and ‘how does that make us more creative or innovative?’ cause we’ve got this cross-pollination of ideas and thoughts.” Olson said.

“So we think we are the crossroads of the world here in Orlando, with 75 million visitors every year.  And we’ve had people from all over settling here. And we’ve had people from the world all over looking at us in the last few years since Pulse to see how we respond to acts of hate. So we think this is the time and the place to show the world that people with different lifestyles and different ethnicities, heritages, can live together  in a non-divisive way.”

A repeated phrase though the interview seems to summarize their message: “You can be you here.”

The festival will be held in front of the Dr. Phillips Center. They are still looking for more vendors and sponsors. More information can be found here. 


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