After a long, COVID-induced hiatus, the Multicultural Festival (MCF) is back.

The 41st Annual MCF will be held at the Merrill Cultural Center this Saturday, May 20. The event, running from noon to 6 p.m., features a setlist including headliner SambaDá — a samba-reggae-funk group based in Santa Cruz — and countless student performance groups. This year’s theme is ‘Unite Cultures, Ignite Change.’

Performers on the set list include Kalanjali, Han Chinese traditional clothing club, Starchrome, Mariachi Juvebuk Kuz de Luna, Kasama, Sigma Lambda Bada, Chinese Student Association, Tazataal, Los Mejicas, POPreKa, Isang Himig, Sabrosura, Pagkakaisa Dance Troupe, Vietnamese Student Association, Haluan, and, of course, SambaDá.

“Our main intention for this coming MCF is to bring attention to the winter storms and how they’ve affected our local community,” said Bayanihan co-chair and event organizer Ethan Domingo. “It shares the same goal [as past MCFs] of bringing ethnic organizations together, but we’re hoping to go beyond and have a greater impact on the Santa Cruz community.”

Though the event is free to the public, participants can buy $1 raffle tickets for prizes donated from local businesses. The funds from the raffle will be directed towards the next MCF, as well as community-led storm relief efforts led by community organization Barrios Unidos and the Santa Cruz County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Aside from the raffle and prizes, organizations will be bringing foods that represent their communities.

“To be frank, I’m excited for the food,” Domingo said. 

His excitement for food was echoed by fellow event organizers Jamie Tran and X, who are Presidents of Vietnamese Student Association and Black Student Union respectively.

Saturday’s event is larger in scale than what any of the event organizers have previously taken on, pulling 13 campus organizations together in a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since before the pandemic.

“COVID really dissolved a lot of the bonds that we had with one another,” Tran said. “So it’s been really cool to interact with all of these different organizations and to come together for the same cause.”

In other words, it’s been a long time since ethnic organizations on campus have been able to hold such a large-scale event for students of all cultural backgrounds to come together. Four years, to be exact, have passed since the last MCF.

“It’s a social event, but it’s also a political statement,” X said. “We’re here — these people who don’t really get to see the light of day on campus, we’re still here.”