Community leaders say recent allegations of hate crimes in the Rogue Valley make this year's Multicultural Fair more important than ever.

Community leaders say recent allegations of hate crimes in the Rogue Valley make this year's Multicultural Fair more important than ever.

The annual event will be held Saturday in Medford's Alba Park. It comes on the heels of two well-publicized incidents: an attack on two black teens in downtown Medford and an anti-Hispanic outbreak on Butte Falls that caused school officials to step in with preventative measures.

"Whether or not they are hate crimes, these things occur because of lack of understanding and knowledge about race and cultures," said event coordinator Sarrah LeMoss. "The fair is all about breaking down communication walls."

The mission of Saturday's fair is to educate people about diversity, said LeMoss. Learning about diversity though food, dance and song is a great way to knock down walls, she added.

"It's great exposure, and it's less intimidating at a fair," LeMoss said.

Two stages will feature music and dance this year. Performers will include Zion Train, the Frankie Hernandez Band, Ashland Taiko Drummers, Sahara Belly Dancers and Ritmo Alegra-Ballet Folklorico, she said.

Seth Adaida of Zion Train will open the ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, said LeMoss.

In addition to the musical entertainment, those attending can watch Henna artists create tattoos and browse through the work of vendors offering everything from African baskets and Japanese string balls to Pakistani, Indian and Tibetan clothing, rugs and bags.

Children's entertainment will include a Japanese storyteller, face painting, chalk art, music making and two inflatable jump houses from Medford Parks and Recreation.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.