They say travel is good for your brain. New experiences, meeting new people, hearing another language, tasting new foods and learning new customs actually grow the brain. Being exposed to all of that can even make you more empathetic -- more willing to understand someone else. Personally, I’d say it also lets you get more jokes, make friends and most importantly, it helps you better understand that each of us is part of a much broader world. 

Last week, without leaving home, many got a chance to experience and learn something new. Sometimes travel can mean crossing a bridge into another neighborhood because you’re determined not to let a little road construction keep you from an opportunity.

Did you go to Fiesta Mexicana in Oakland last week? For 83 years, Topekans who care about their neighborhood, their church and the school it helps support have thrown one heck of a party. It’s grown over time to include a run, parade and five days of fun that covers several blocks near Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. So much food! Plus a carnival and two stages of musical and cultural performances each night that left people cheering and dancing in the street.  

Visit Topeka was there with a booth. We wanted you to know about all the incredible events happening this summer and fall in Top City. We were thrilled to answer questions about those events and visit about how much things are changing Downtown and all over Topeka. And we were grateful that so many of you stopped to say thank you because of the part we play in our city’s positive energy.

It was a joy and a privilege to witness the crowd -- Topekans, visitors and former residents who were back to enjoy the festival with friends and family. Topeka is full of vibrant neighborhoods and events like Fiesta help ensure we enjoy the city as one community, rather than staying in the neighborhood in which we get our mail.

Topeka has ethnic and cultural festivals each year that allow each of us the opportunity to get some of the benefit of travel without the cost of the plane ticket. Let’s each of us take the opportunity and learn a little more about our neighbors.

Upcoming ethnic and cultural festivals:

  • Intertribal Powwow, September 2-4, Lake Shawnee near Reynolds Lodge.
  • Kansas Mariachi Festival, September 16, TPAC and Downtown Topeka, presented by Visit Topeka. Tickets to the performance are on sale now. Tickets to the Taste of Mexico Garden available at the gate.
  • India Fest, September 24, Gage Park at Big Gage Shelter House. The India Association of Topeka donates proceeds of this event to the charity of its choice.
  • Oktoberfest, October 1, inside Fairlawn Plaza Mall
  • Dia de los Muertos, October 7 to November 2. Street Fair, October 8, NOTO Arts District.
  • Rome Sweet Home, October 15, Christ the King Church,  5973 SW 25th St.
  • Irish Fest, March 18, 2017 Downtown Topeka