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What’s at WestFest this year? Something for virtually every taste.

West Valley City • It’s a big weekend at Centennial Park.

WestFest’s first day kicked off Thursday night among the rhythmic guitar of a rock cover band and the smell and sound of corn popping and pastries frying.

The festival, which runs through Sunday, is a celebration of the multiple cultures in West Valley City, Utah’s second-most populous city and a majority-minority municipality.

This is Penina White’s fifth year at WestFest. She’s the owner of Anwhut One Stop Polynesian Shop, one of the booths at the festival. Though White’s store has a brick-and-mortar location in neighboring Taylorsville, WestFest has always offered a prime opportunity to advertise her business.

“It’s not just that. There is just so much from every country you can think of,” she said, “and, of course, the food is a plus.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dancers perform a traditional Colombian dance at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

White is Tongan; her business partner is Samoan. They offer staples—such as Kukui necklaces—from various Polynesian and Micronesian islands.

Just like her, other vendors from Utah, Nevada, Arizona, the Pacific Islands and Latin America are gathering at the park. In total, nearly 60 vendors are on hand through Saturday, with home crafts, face painting, jewelry, crystals, Polynesian fabrics and more.

“Last year was a little rough because it was coming off COVID, and we still had some restrictions,” said Steve Vincent, co-chair of WestFest. “So we’re hoping this year will be gangbusters.”

The carnival, which includes a small Ferris wheel, car rides for little kids, music express and a wacky shack, runs every night. Festival entrance is free, but an all-day pass for carnival rides is $40.

Concepción Rodríguez brought her two kids from Magna to enjoy the carnival Thursday evening.

“My favorite part,” she said in Spanish, “is to watch them have fun.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riders on the Freak Out at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

But other offerings attract Rodríguez as well—cold beverages, shaved ice and ice cream, all refreshing on hot days.

This was Rodríguez’s first visit to WestFest — and it made a great first impression. “It’s all very pretty and impressive,” she said. “I love it.”

The movie in the park also returned Thursday, showcasing Disney’s “Encanto.” New events like chicken-nugget- and donut-eating contests were added this year.

And reflecting West Valley City’s rich and diverse food scene, 26 food vendors featured grub from all over the world along with American classics.

“We have so many options. We have all of the favorites for carnival-type foods,” Vincent said. “Corn dogs and hamburgers and fry bread…”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chicken on the grill at the Hawaiian Vilovilo booth at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Selections also include Hawaiian-style chicken, Polynesian pineapple drinks, tacos, malasadas (Hawaiian doughnuts), Colombian fare and Texas Twister Drinks served in boots.

Danny Piñeros, owner of Sabor Colombiano, shifted from the usual Murray location where he parks his food truck to be part of WestFest for the first time.

“It’s been very good so far. There are many nice people,” he said in Spanish. “We are always looking for a family-friendly environment, and this is it.”

Colombian arepas stuffed with chicken, beef, chicken and mushrooms, chorizo ​​or cheese are the most popular dishes, but there’s more in the truck. “We do Colombian fast food,” he said “arepas, empanadas, salchipapas, Colombian-style hot dogs…”

Lydia Hunter and Logan Christiansen took a minute to decide which food vendor they would hit next after having Hawaiian-style chicken and Kalua pig from the Hawaiian Vilovilo tent.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cuisine at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

“It’s pretty good. Me gusta la musica. The bands are really good,” Christiansen said. “And the chicken was so good,” Hunter added.

On one of the two stages, three bands planned to play every night, providing Beatles, Latin, country and folk music.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) MOBocracy performs at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

The other stage is set to host cultural entertainment, with acts from different dance groups, including belly dancing, Latin American, and Pacific Islander heritage performances. There are also “Scales and Tails” (a reptile show), a magician and shows from the West Valley City Fire Department and the police K-9 unit.

The festival continues Friday from 5 to 11 pm and Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm with fireworks at the end of the night. On Sunday, only the carnival stays open, from noon to 11 pm

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riders on the Yo Yo at WestFest in West Valley City on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

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