Engage NWA's Saturday Event Part of National Welcoming Week

A Northwest Arkansas organization has put together an event to help celebrate National Welcoming Week.

Engage NWA, which is a coalition of nonprofit organizations, businesses and community members dedicated to making Northwest Arkansas welcoming to immigrants, has organized “Welcoming NWA: Celebrating the Cultural Diversity of Northwest Arkansas.”

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Shiloh Square Pavilion in downtown Springdale.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate the backgrounds of Northwest Arkansas immigrants. There will be food trucks representing cuisine from different parts of the world, musical performances by local groups and cultural presentations. Fifteen different community organizations will have tables at the event to share information about what they do.

Saturday’s event comes toward the end of National Welcoming Week, which is Sept. 12-20 this year. The week was established to highlight the contributions of immigrants to American communities, and more than 200 festivals, events and activities are planned across the nation this week, according to Welcoming America.

"The EngageNWA partnership was founded on the understanding that our communities are more vibrant and prosperous places when they welcome in new neighbors,” said Emily Hackerson, an American Dream fellow at The Cisneros Center for New Americans who is working in Northwest Arkansas. “This is the first year NWA will celebrate along with cities across the nation during Welcoming Week, lifting up the unique regional voice and diverse strengths of our communities. We're looking forward to a great turnout this year, and the beginning of a Welcoming Week tradition for the years ahead."

Arkansas, and especially Northwest Arkansas, is becoming more and more diverse as the years pass.

The state’s population is about 15 percent African-American, 6.9 percent Hispanic, 1.5 percent Asian and 0.3 percent Pacific Islanders.

Springdale is Northwest Arkansas’ most diverse city where 39 percent of residents are Hispanic, nearly 6 percent are Pacific Islanders and 2 percent are Asian. The city of about 75,000 residents has one of the world’s largest populations of people from the Marshall Islands.

Rogers and Siloam Springs also have large Hispanic populations at 33 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Bentonville, meanwhile, is 9 percent Hispanic and has a growing Asian population that now accounts for more than 9 percent of the city’s more than 40,000 residents. About 2.5 percent of residents are African-American.

Fayetteville, the region’s largest city with more than 80,000 residents, is about 8 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African-American and 4 percent Asian.