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PHOTOS: New England BIPOC Fest celebrates arts, culture and diversity in Portsmouth

A large crowd turned out in Portsmouth Sunday for the New England BIPOC Fest. The event was created to celebrate food, art, and culture – and community members from non-profits groups and small businesses.

“It’s really just showing all of New England that the communities here are strong, and that this is a safe place for everybody to come to and really show the exposure behind what is the heart beat behind New England," said David Vargas, event co-chair, who is chef and owner of Vida Cantina, where the festival was held.

"It is these different Indigenous, African-American communities that make up New England and you can come here and you can experience it and be in this environment of happiness all together," Vargas said.

The festival featured a broad array of arts and crafts, as well as restaurant fare, including Middle Eastern, Indian, Himalayan, Mexican, and Vietnamese cuisine.

Musical performances included a Mariachi band from Boston; West African drum music; reggae and hip-hop acts; Indonesian dance; and a poetry reading from Diannely Antigua, the Poet Laureate of Portsmouth and the city's first honored poet to be a person of color.

Vargas says the festival has outgrown its location. He estimated an attendance of 1,500 people Sunday.

Next year, they plan to host the BIPOC Fest held in downtown Portsmouth.

Dan is a long-time New Hampshire journalist who has written for outlets including Foster's Daily Democrat, The Citizen of Laconia, The Boston Globe, and The Eagle-Tribune. He comes to NHPR from the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he reported on state, local, and national politics.