Festival brings together many kinds, cultures

NASHUA – Heavy rains gave Poludaktulos Orchestra a captive audience as it played its blend of traditional Greek and brass music under a tent during Nashua’s Multicultural Festival on Sunday afternoon.

The storm that broke around 4 p.m. forced the orchestra, the last band of the day, and its audience to huddle under a large white tent that was decorated with flags representing countries from around the world.

Organizers said there were no problems until the bad weather started.

The band was supposed to play on the main stage, on Ash Street, but the rains forced them to take cover. At times, the torrent turned Ash Street, where it was held, into a miniriver, and the sheets of rain wiped out visibility.

The Multicultural Festival was coordinated by Nashua’s Community Development Urban Programs Department and Livable Walkable Communities of Nashua, and was sponsored by many local businesses.

During a pause in the rain, some young dancers left the shelter of the tent to practice their art form, called “breaking.” For most people, the sight of hip-hop dancing to Greek music would be unusual, but not for Tev Stevig, the orchestra’s leader.

“We get people improvising in traditional and nontraditional ways,” Stevig said. “Either way is great for us.”

Both the orchestra and the dancers of the crew, Dangerous Styles, came from Boston to perform at the festival.

Alex “Glass” MacNeil described the crew’s moves as the original style of hip-hop dancing. The group itself is a good example of being multicultural because its members are Asian, Hispanic, white and black.

Scott Slattery, the manager of the city’s urban programs department, was under the tent when the rain came. He didn’t expect the downpour and told others around him that the weather report said there would only be a 30 percent chance of rain.

A reporter first met Slattery as he was walking down the street a few minutes before the deluge.

“This year, we had more vendors and more food but what we didn’t have was this,” Slattery said while holding out his hand to catch some drizzle. Thunder cracked as he finished his sentence.

Many of the vendors along Ash Street began packing up after the downpour began. But people under the tent such as Kenneth Perrin, of Nashua, and his wife stuck around to listen to the orchestra.

As he ate an Indian cuisine, Perrin joked that the storm made the festival more “realistic” because many countries have monsoons.

“I didn’t expect to be serenaded during my dinner after a monsoon,” Perrin said.

Sitting near the Perrins was Dorrett Burgess, a grandmother from Nashua. She wore a bright yellow T-shirt, with the word “Jamaica,” her home country, written on the front.

She described the Caribbean nation as a place where the weather is warm and the people are friendly.

“We try to live as one and offer peace,” Burgess said.

Last year, the weather was far different, said organizer Eva Molina of AmeriCorps Vista. In 2007, the tent was needed to give shelter from the blazing sun, not a monsoon.

The main objective of the festival was community outreach to the Tree Streets area, whose residents told organizers years ago they would like to have more activities in their neighborhood. Organizers started with a block parties, but last year, those parties evolved into a major event for the first time.