VALPARAISO | Linda Peda and her husband, Ray, were among the many people setting up lawn chairs Saturday in downtown Valparaiso for an evening of cultural music and entertainment.
''We're ready to go,'' said Peda, a Spanish teacher at Portage High School.
The Valparaiso International Center's fifth annual World Cultural Festival was intended to introduce and showcase lifestyles from different parts of the world with entertainment, art and other exhibits representative of China, India, Mexico and many other countries. The event also featured Turkish, Spanish, Mediterranean and other food.
Erica Cook, 36, of Morgan Township, enjoyed a garlic salad next to her daughter, Keelyn, 11, in front of the Porter Health Amphitheatre stage at Central Park Plaza at Lincolnway and Lafayette Street.
''There's all kinds of neat stuff,'' Cook said.
Center founder Duane Davison said Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties have many residents from different countries and the festival is a way to bring all of those cultures together in one place. The event offers a change from other festivals, which reflect a single culture, he said.
''We don't have one signature event from the tri-county area that is for the world,'' Davison said.
Bruce Bunton, of Valparaiso, his wife, Erin, and their children Lillian, 13, and Cooper, 6, said the food and kids' games brought them to the festival.
''It's a perfect day for it,'' Erin Bunton said.
Frank Ghingeg, 23, and Bo Hu, students at Valparaiso University who are from China, took special pleasure in the rockabilly music at the start of the festival.
''The music sounds good,'' Hu said.
Other acts onstage included the Indian Dance Group, consisting of young girls from Crown Point and the South Shore Dancers, who did routines reflective of West Africa.
''It's pretty cool,'' said Cali Russell, 22, a member of the Valparaiso University dance team, who performed the mambo with her classmate, Khloe Mossman, 20.