MIDWEST CITY — Clad in his medieval cloak, with silver dagger and Celtic rings glistening, Ben Sanders was prepared for battle.
Cold weather on a dreary Saturday afternoon only made it easier on the English knights during the Global Oklahoma 2012 Festival at Rose State College.
“Layers,” Sanders said with a laugh. “That's the secret to staying warm. It's how they stayed warm in medieval England, too.”
A member of the re-enactment group, The Arthurian Order of Avalon, and a chiropractor and anatomy professor the rest of the year, Sanders attended the festival to represent his English and Celtic heritage.
Food vendors offered a taste of different cultures while a variety of performances, from Indonesian music to Native American dancing, unfolded at four stages set up around the campus mall.
Lisa Price, the festival's director, said more than 20 countries from around the world were represented this year. But organizers chose to put their primary focus on one particular country beset by recent tragedy: Haiti.
“One of the primary reasons we wanted to feature Haiti this year is due to the hardships that have occurred there,” Price said. “We want to offer the opportunity at the festival this year for approved relief organizations and projects to come to the festival and generate support and raise awareness for what they are doing in Haiti.”
Price said organizations such as the Red Cross, Power Mission, Mission of Hope Haiti and Boots on the Ground participated this year to commemorate relief efforts they provided to Haitians after the 2010 earthquake left many of the country's residents homeless.
Jonah Karoki said celebrating diverse cultures encourages him to remain involved in his own. Karoki and his wife own a catering business that features dishes from their Kenyan and Ethiopian heritages.
The two are members of the organization Kenyan Oklahoma Community.
“Our main clients are actually Americans. Once they try our food they love it,” Karoki said of his catering business.
Karoki said Global Oklahoma is one way the region shows its celebration of diversity.
“I don't know if it's because of the Native American heritage here or if it's just because the people are very open, but I think Oklahoma is very cultural friendly,” he said.
Price said the festival, which is an annual event, was a success despite the cold weather.
“We had a really strong turnout. Only a handful of participants canceled due to the weather but most showed up. I think overall people had a great day,” Price said.