CULTURE, WITH A CAPITAL 'K' : Look at What's Returning to Irvine: A Kaleidoscope of Ethnic Entertainment : Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

The much-bandied "M" word--multiculturalism--rears its head in Orange County Saturday and Sunday with the return of the Kaleidoscope Festival to Irvine.

Native American dancers, Irish bands, traditional Vietnamese music, Chinese opera and Caribbean fire dancers will be part of the more than 100 performances on seven stages in UC Irvine's Aldrich Park.

In addition, a cultural pavilion will house displays and demonstrations ranging from traditional Japanese tea ceremonies to Armenian lace-weaving. There will be a food park, with at least 17 ethnic food booths, and an international marketplace with more than 30 vendors selling such items as craft works and musical instruments.

The Kaleidoscope Festival first appeared in 1989 as the closing event of the county's centennial celebration. It was intended as a onetime event, but organizers say it was such a success, drawing a two-day crowd of 28,000, that they decided to bring it back.

As before, the festival is organized by the nonprofit Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County, an umbrella group for local ethnic councils and organizations. Money raised will be used to cover expenses, with any profits aiding foundation programs.

"Our main goal as a foundation is to give an opportunity to local cultures to showcase themselves," said festival chairwoman Catherine Thyen. The foundation organizes some dances, concerts and other events, Thyen said. She added that Orange County's ethnic communities are "not always visible" but are diverse and active in keeping their traditions alive.

The festival comprises both amateur and professional musicians drawn mostly from Orange and Los Angeles counties. More than 30 different ethnic groups will be represented, including East Indian, Scottish, Bolivian, Korean, Israeli, African-American and Iranian. In addition to the stage performances, there will be storytellers and such events as re-enactments of a traditional East Indian wedding.

Special activities and projects for children will also be provided. Entertainment will be continuous during the festival.

Thyen said the Kaleidoscope Festival is likely to return again, although probably not on a yearly basis.

"This is a massive job, and we're a very small office" with just two full-time staff members, Thyen said. The first festival required more than a year of planning and the efforts of about 1,500 volunteers. This year's festival, which will be slightly larger than the first, also relies largely on volunteer labor.

What: Kaleidoscope Festival '91.

When: Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Aldrich Park, UC Irvine.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego Freeway, head west on Jamboree Road to Campus Drive. Turn left on Campus, proceed to Berkeley Street and turn right. Parking attendants will direct festival-goers from there.

Wherewithal: $5 for one day, $7 for two. Children under 16 free. Parking is free.

Where to call: (714) 250-1957.

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