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York's Heritage Fiesta celebrates community with potluck

The 8th Annual Heritage Fiesta at Cousler Park in Manchester Township, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

At 3 p.m. Saturday, Cousler Park was buzzing with the joyful noise of dining and dancing as the community gathered for Heritage Fiesta.

The Manchester Township park welcomed the eighth annual festival hosted by the Philippine American Heritage Council — celebrating not only Filipino culture but many others — potluck style.

Some traditional Filipino fare included pancit Malabon (thick rice noodles) and arroz Valenciana (pork, raisins, coconut milk and sticky rice) — a take on a Spanish tradition.

"Most Filipino parties are potluck parties," said fiesta chairwoman Emy Delgaudio, and Americans enjoy it because they love the food, she added.

Pork Eggrolls are served during the 8th Annual Heritage Fiesta at Cousler Park in Manchester Township, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The festival has been growing each year, said Mila Thomas, who helps organize the festival with Delgaudio and Eve Grey.

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Delgaudio estimates more than 100 people come each year, noting that even last year, when it rained, people stayed.

Formerly a heritage picnic for the Filipino community, the event was expanded into a festival to celebrate all cultures in 2016.

Delgaudio called it "a celebration of the diversity which enriches America with its history of immigrant newcomers who work hard to build community" in the fiesta program.

"It was by accident" that the event started at all, she said. Her first Filipino American friend was Evelyn Miller, who co-founded the council before she was struck by a bus and died in 2016.

From right, Esterlina Tambis, of Shippensburg, Glades Mumma, of Newberry Township, and Gema Fox, of Lemoyne, dance during the 8th Annual Heritage Fiesta at Cousler Park in Manchester Township, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

After helping Miller with a festival for her church in 2011, Delgaudio held a picnic for friends who helped out, and it grew into an annual tradition opened up to the community.

Elaiza Tambis, of Shippensburg, Cumberland County, attended Saturday for the first time — following in the tradition of her sister, who returned for her fourth year.

Tambis said she loves the idea of "doing a celebration like this."

Many come from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines, Tambis said, and Delgaudio added that many other cultures are represented, including Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic and Native American.

Mila Thomas, of West York Borough, works with food during the 8th Annual Heritage Fiesta at Cousler Park in Manchester Township, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Performers from Hershey, Harrisburg and Cumberland, Lancaster and York counties displayed their talents this year.

"We're all having fun!" said Linda Lynch, one of the Dancing Divas of Cumberland Valley, first-time performers at the festival.