International Food and Art Walk to unite cultures on National Avenue

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:33 am

Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, Inc. will give Milwaukee residents an opportunity to travel the globe in a two-block stretch on Saturday during its fourth annual Silver City International Food and Art Walk.

The free festival, set along National Avenue between 33rd and 35th Streets, blends cuisine, art and performances from a variety of cultures – from that of Mexico to Laos to Ireland.

LBWN organizes the festival each year to highlight the breadth of cultures present in the southside neighborhoods it aims to stabilize and revitalize – Silver City, Burnham Park and Layton Park.

“The festival is all about celebrating the very diverse cultural assets within the Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods,” said Celia Benton, economic development manager at LBWN.

Similar to past festivals, the 2015 International Food and Art Walk will feature food samples from several southside restaurants, many of which are owned by first- or second-generation immigrants, according to Benton.

In one area, “you can sample a lot of different cuisines, which is an incredible asset that you can’t find on every commercial corridor,” Benton said.

Among the neighborhood restaurants on the festival menu is Casa Noble Mexican Restaurant & Bar, which opened this summer, and Bamboo Restaurant, which will give festival-goers a preview of its cuisine before it officially opens on Sept. 15.

Fest patrons will be able to try everything from Pad Thai noodles to Thai barbecue to papaya salad to cupcakes and brownies, according to Beth Lee, director of fund development and communications for LBWN.

Among the new activities at this year’s International Food and Art Walk is a pop-up exhibit themed “Cultural Food Ways,” conducted in partnership with the Milwaukee Public Museum. The exhibit, right on festival grounds, will invite attendees to contribute a food utensil or recipe to its display for the day so that a spectrum of cultures is represented. Patrons can bring a food item that reflects their own cultural heritage or one that conveys a culture they have integrated into their own meals.

Museum staff will monitor the exhibit throughout the day.

Additional activities will include live artists specialized in chalk art, papier-mâché, pottery, painting and piñatas.  

On the performing arts side, LBWN will showcase Latin jazz music by Carlos Adames Group and Celtic music by the Brett Lipshutz Trio. Their stage time will follow live cultural performances by area dancers from the Women’s Lao Organization, Escamilla Entertainment and Ko-thi Dance Company.

LBWN organizers hope the day connects area neighbors while drawing in residents from other Milwaukee neighborhoods and beyond in a fun atmosphere that amalgamates a cross sector of cultures, according to Lee.

“We really want them to just be able to come and enjoy a great time of a variety of cultures,” Lee said. “We want them to see that National Avenue isn’t just a street to drive down. It’s a place to come and really enjoy the restaurants and culture and people.”

Last year’s International Food and Art Walk drew more than 1,000 attendees.

This year’s event will run from noon to 5 p.m.

For a full lineup of activities and vendors, click here.

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