's became a hub of global dining and entertainment last week as performers and food vendors representing a variety of cultures and ethnic groups came together as part of the first Cultural Collaborative event.

A crowd of roughly 200 enjoyed unique food and culture from individuals representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. The event also included crafts, and lots of good-natured conversation and fellowship with a goal of understanding a new cuisine, language or custom that may have been unfamiliar.

This was the first of several this year to celebrate the cultural diversity of Wyoming and its surrounding communities.  The next one will be the World Food + Festival on May 11, an outdoor event that will include international music and a variety of food and entertainment vendors on the Village Green.  A third date is being planned for the fall.

The innovative events are the work of Wyoming's newly formed Cultural Collaborative, a group of residents led by City Council member .  The collaborative's mission is to celebrate Wyoming's diversity with festivities throughout the year.

LeRoy says he was inspired to launch the collaborative because of the number of talented individuals he has met in Wyoming, many who have moved here from across the globe, and many others who grew up right here in Wyoming or Cincinnati.

“Wyoming is really a melting pot,” he says.  “And there's so much we can learn from each other.  What better way to celebrate our diversity than coming together to share our talents.”

Sheryl Rajbhandari, a member of the collaborative and the founder of , an organization that supports international refugees as they re-settle in the United States, says she and her husband, Amsu, were drawn to Wyoming 21 years ago because of its reputation as a welcoming to many cultures.

“Amsu (who is from Nepal) and I moved to Wyoming because we found that there were people from multiple places in the world, not just one or two countries,” she says.  “We felt our children would have a better opportunity of being welcomed surrounded by people who would know where Nepal was located.  We haven't been disappointed.   We appreciate that on the flip side of being welcomed, our children have found friends from various ethnic backgrounds.   That has broadened their understanding of the world and helped them form an appreciation for differences.

“What I love about these events is that while there will be many Wyoming ethnic groups represented, there will also be participants from our neighbors in , Finneytown and Hartwell,” she added.

“Many Cincinnatians are surprised by the diversity around them.  Events like these allow for further conversations and a chance to do more with our neighbors to grow our community.”