Orange Reheats a Sizzling Favorite : Festival: Despite temperatures pushing into the 90s, thousands enjoy food, music, art and dancing at the city’s international street fair.


Polish hot dogs. Glazed Greek baklava. Indian fry bread. . . . And a 30-foot Japanese dragon dancing in the heat?

All could be found at the Orange International Street Fair, a cultural smorgasbord that was a tourist’s delight and a dieter’s nightmare.

As the mercury pushed over the 90-degree mark Saturday, several thousand revelers at the 23rd annual festival celebrated food, music, art and performances from around the world.


“This is probably one of the hottest and most crowded fairs we’ve had,” said Judy Sollee, the fair’s president.

The two-day event at the Orange Circle drew 80 nonprofit groups this year, bringing sweet, sizzling and saucy foods from various corners of the globe.

Judith Gregory of Stanton licked her fingertips as she finished off her Swedish meatballs.

“There goes my diet,” she bemoaned.

Lemonade slushes were popular among the young and old, many of whom tried to remain cool by seeking shade under store tents and trees in a nearby park.

Despite the heat, cooks endured smoky grills topped with teriyaki shish kebabs and bubbling oil pans frying loukoumathes, a Greek fry dough dipped in a honey-lemon syrup.

Along Glassell Street and Chapman Avenue, vendors represented by various youth groups and church organizations gathered to raise funds for their community projects and to offer a host of ethnic foods and crafts.

Flags and banners from Asian, Scandinavian, Latin American and European countries resembled a United Nations street party. A panel of six judges roamed the booths to determine which ones displayed the most authenticity and creativity.

The Danish street won first place. The German, Greek and Norwegian booths took the second through fourth prizes, respectively.


The merriment has drawn Sherrill Swenson to the fair for the past 22 years, he said, but the funds raised from the fair are the primary reason he keeps returning. Last year, his group, the Solbakken Lodge, a Norwegian charity, raised $4,000 for scholarships and $4,000 for local programs for the needy, Swenson said.

This year’s main attraction included a performance group from Shikoku, Japan. About 60 Yosakoi dancers, Ushioni dragon dancers and a Taiko drummer paraded through the streets as people cheered.

Katherine Long, 48, of Los Angeles chased with a video camera after the Ushioni, a legendary red dragon said to ward off evil, as it bounced through and parted the crowd. Said Long: “I wouldn’t miss the fair for anything.”