By Max Nichts
Five thousand people representing the rainbow of ethnicities and cultures in Northeast L.A gathered for Lummis Day 2009, the 4th celebration of the annual multi-cultural festival, presented by the Autry National Center, the Annenberg Foundation and the neighborhood councils of Northeast L.A.
The 4th annual Lummis Day featured an expanded line-up of musicians, dance groups, poets, puppets, theatrical performances and restaurant booths. Over 20 music, dance, theatre and poetry performances were staged with the participation of over 100 performing artists. Admission to all events was free.
Highlights included performances by Ozomatli’s Wil-Dog, I See Hawks in L.A., BombaChante, Culture Clash, The Monolators, Seasons, the Carlos Guitarlos Band the Eugene Edwards Band, the Lula Washington Professional Development Ensemble, the cast of Juli Crockett’s “Dawn of Quixote,” the Puppets and Players Little Theater. A morning poetry “gala” that got the event drew a standing-room-only crowd to hear poets Suzanne Lummis, Ruben Martinez and Gail Wronsky. And art exhibits at an adjacent location—featuring Julie Nagesh, Luis Villanueva, Raoul de La Sota and J Michael Walker, among others—were attended by hundreds during the afternoon.
Veteran KTTV and KCOP reporter Hal Eisner served as MC for much of the Festival. Lummis Day was staged at three sites, all in the Highland Park-Sycamore Grove area that is also convenient to such communities as Eagle Rock, Cypress Park, Montecito Heights, Mount Washington, Lincoln Heights and Glassell Park. The event sites were Lummis Home (poetry and music) Sycamore Grove Park (music, dance, theater and food), and the Autry National Center’s Casa de Adobe (art exhibitions).
The Lummis Day Festival was created to celebrate the patchwork of cultures that enriches the city. Artists represented Latino, Tagalog, Native American, Anglo and African-American traditions. Music included blues, rock, banda, salsa, jazz and country. Dance troupes represented Philippine, Mexican, Pacific Island and jazz dance traditions. Poets, painters and culinary artists, all with local connections, added to the Festival’s collection of cultures.
In a nod to the ethnic diversity that gives the Northeast L.A. community its unique character, the Festival’s organizers named their event for Los Angeles historical figure Charles Fletcher Lummis, who joined the L.A. Times as the newspaper’s first city editor in 1876.
A prolific writer and photographer, Lummis was also one of the city’s first librarians, founded the Southwest Museum and helped introduce the concept of multi-culturalism to Southern California.
The Lummis Day event was backed by a broad range of sponsors. In addition to presenting sponsors The Autry national Center and the Annenberg Foundation, six neighborhood councils representing the Northeast L.A. area (Arroyo Seco, Historic Highland Park, Greater Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, L.A. 32 and Glassell Park) all chipped in the stage the event. The city’s Department of Recreation and Parks was also listed as a sponsor, as were Los Angeles City Councilmembers Ed Reyes and Jose Huizar, magazine publisher Poets & Writers and the L.A.
County Arts Commission, which helped underwrite the concert.