Harrisonburg, Virginia celebrates the diversity of their cultural population this weekend with the 18th annual International Festival – a celebration of families. The event takes place on Saturday, September 26th from 12:00PM – 6:00PM at Hillandale Park.
Free and open to the public, visitors can experience an extravaganza of performing, visual, and culinary arts and a world of beautiful people offering a remarkable smorgasbord of mouth-watering delicacies, musical talent and dance, creative folk art, language and intercultural learning opportunities, a World Bazaar of exquisite hand-made and imported art and souvenirs, and a world of stories waiting to be shared! the food, colors, craft and artisan vendors and music of international cultures. You will find friends from all over the world, foods from Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Thailand, Europe, Puerto Rico, and Central America, talent in music and dance from Aztec, Filipino, Irish, Chinese, and Kurdish artists, storytelling from our Native American heritage. (Per Visit Harrisonburg)
According to Boris Ozuna, director of the festival, “We believe your hearts will be enlarged and re-energized with the love and hospitality you will find here, in the smiles, and hugs, and beats that set your feet to dancing. Two of the most popular activities of the festival is the Parade of Fashion showcasing the countries represented here today and their native heritage clothing and the Drum Circle where all can participate together in music making.”
Our World Food comes together from our participating international restaurants here in Harrisonburg and Rockingham county. The World Bazaar offers an array of artisans and craft vendors.
There is a huge children’s section of the festival. What is different here from other festivals is that the children’s activities reflect activities native for children from other countries such as:
Toys and Games – Yarn Dolls – Scandinavia
Wearable Art – Pharaoh Hat – Egypt
Legends and Myths – Dragons – China
Customs – Origami – Japan
Home Décor – Peace Flags – Tibet.
“When you bring people from so many cultures together, there must be an effort by the community to educate their neighbors to the diversity of culture and language that is surrounding them in their daily lives here in Harrisonburg. With education, this diversity can be seen as a strength of the community. We like to think of this festival as three “E’s” – Eat – Entertain – Educate. The festival’s goal is to showcase Harrisonburg and Rockingham as ‘one community’ of many diverse cultures.
“Our public schools have over 52 languages represented. This diversity of population is due to three things:
Harrisonburg Rufugee Resettlement Program
the Poultry industry
James Madison University
The Harrisonburg Rufugee Resettlement Program is a branch of the Church of World Services. Refugee Resettlement in the United States became formalized when President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act of 1980. Learn more.
http://harrisonburgrefugees.com/. The huge poultry industry offers a vast number of jobs that can be a beginning step off place for people moving into a new country. And of course, James Madison University is interested in attracting international students to enrich their student population’s diversity.
The festival is put together by volunteers with the Fairfield Center serving as a logistical planning base. Field Center offers a comprehensive array of Conflict Resolution, Communication Training, Business Services, Restorative Justice and Civic Engagement initiatives for the community of Harrisonburg.
Here in the United States, it is the norm that our metropolitan areas have diverse cultures but it is unusual to see this large of a cultural population in the middle of an agricultural hub. The festival offers the Harrisonburg community for one day a year an opportunity to showcase the city’s international uniqueness here in the state of Virginia.
Go Blue Ridge Travel encourages Harrisonburg’s backyard neighbors to take the one hour plus drive and participate with their families in this unique world event. There are several stages, a Global Village and a Green Village and the World Bazaar. A Bucket choice for children of all ages!