Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:15 pm
While Thoy Schuelke has owned and managed the Asian International Market at 3401 W. National Ave. for eight years, many of the people she meets in Milwaukee don’t know where her grocery store is located.
Nor do they know much about any of the other international offerings neighboring her family-owned business, she said.
“People don’t even know we have Thai barbecue on 34th and National Avenue,” Schuelke said. “People don’t even know that right across the street we have Vientiane.”
The Silver City International Food & Art Walk, scheduled for Saturday, is working to draw more attention to businesses like Schuelke’s as it showcases the cultural diversity of Milwaukee’s south side.
The free walk, which has been coordinated by Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, Inc. for the past three years, converges local restaurants and artists along a stretch of National Avenue where they hand out samples of cuisine and put their talents in front of the public eye.
While past festivals have been hosted along the sidewalks of National Avenue, during this year’s event LBWN will close down the avenue between 33rd and 35th streets so all the action is contained.
At the center of the festival will be a main stage featuring live music and dance groups, including the Panadanza Dance Company, the Carlos Adames Group and the Milwaukee School of Capoiera. Additionally, Salsabrosa Dance Company, will offer free dance lessons throughout the day.
Nearby, more than 10 Silver City restaurants will have samples and food specials onsite, including dishes native to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Vietnam and the Mediterranean.
Attendees will be able to “sample a ton of different ethnic cuisines spanning the globe” in just a few blocks, said Danielle McLean, LBWN’s event coordinator.
Participating artists, who will cover every art form from watercolor and glass work to photography and poetry, will facilitate interactive projects for festival attendees.
While last year’s festival experienced inclement weather, McLean said it still attracted more than 500 attendees from across both the neighborhood and the city.
“I think it’s (a) unique (event) because I think that it really brings in local neighbors that are already living in the Silver City neighborhood, but it also attracts people from all over Milwaukee to come to the neighborhood and see what the neighborhood is all about,” McLean said.
Some of those attendees have become repeat customers at businesses like the Asian International Market, according to Schuelke.
The walk is a critical event “so that people know we are right here,” she said. “When you drive by, don’t forget to look left and right.”
The 2014 Silver City International Food & Art Walk, made possible by several grants including one from the Wisconsin Arts Board, will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the festival’s lineup of restaurants, artists, musicians and dancers, click here.