World Cultural Festival Returns to Valparaiso

The 10th Annual World Cultural Festival will transform Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza into a colorful spectacle of cultural diversity from 12 noon to 5pm on Sunday, September 16th. Sponsored by The Valparaiso International Center (The VIC), the family-friendly event will feature music and dance from around the world, great shopping for international art and handicrafts, ethnic cuisine, and children’s activities. The festival is open to everyone, and admission is free of charge.
     Imagine an afternoon spent traveling all over the globe. Sway to the sounds of a contemporary rock band from China. Then have a taste of some delicious tapas from Spain. Shop for arts and crafts produced by village women in Kenya. Back to the stage for traditional folk dancing from Serbia. Have a snack of kebabs made by a chef from Afghanistan. Close out your day listening to a folk violinist from Peru while eating Indiana-made ice cream. It’s all possible on Sunday, September 16th, in downtown Valparaiso.
      “The World Cultural Festival is the yearly climax of our efforts to promote better global awareness and connections among the many cultures that make up our local community,” says Duane Davison, founding chair of The VIC. “The event provides an opportunity for people to learn about each other, enjoy their music and dance, sample their food, and make friends. The festival has earned a national reputation as a guaranteed good time. Last year’s festival was named by the international travel website Expedia as the best thing to do in Indiana.”
     A variety of entertainment will be provided on stage at the Porter Health Amphitheater.
“We’ve got a terrific lineup of performers this year,” says Jen Hernandez, entertainment co-director for the festival. “There will be music and dance representing the cultures of India, Mexico, South Africa, Croatia, Sweden, Serbia, China, and the USA. Additional acts are still being added.”
     Among the performers will be the South Shore Dance Alliance, the Chinese Jasmine Dancing Team, Srbadija Folklore Ensemble, guitarists Pancho and Carolyn Rodea, Nordic Kids Scandinavian dancers, Hoosier Strings Junior Tamburitzans, and solo performances by a dancer from India and a violinist from Peru. The sound of Christopher McQuillin’s bagpipe will open the event.

“A highlight of the festival,” says Hugh McGuigan, current chair of The VIC’s Board of Directors, “is the Parade of Nations. We encourage attendees to wear traditional attire to the event and carry the flag of their birthplace or ancestral homeland. We are expecting a good turnout from among the international students at Valparaiso University, as well as from the general community. The parade should be a spectacular sight as it winds through the festival grounds and onto the stage.”

Under the roof of the adjoining William E. Urschel Pavilion, festival goers will have the opportunity to purchase ethnic cuisine prepared by the following local restaurants: Don Quijote Restaurant (Spanish), Taste of India, Jade Garden (Chinese), Roxana’s Restaurant (Afghan), and Woodfire Restaurant (Mexican). A sixth restaurant representing yet another cuisine is anticipated.

Many non-profit organizations and educational institutions will have information booths, and a variety of international products and fair-trade items will be available for sale at the World Bazaar. For the youngsters, there will be numerous activities with an international angle at the children’s tent and a display of artwork from local middle schoolers. There will also be an Italian bocce ball demonstration.

“We would be unable to hold this great event without our sponsors,” says McGuigan. “We’re delighted to have NITCO as our lead sponsor again this year, and we welcome the City of Valparaiso and NIPSCO as major contributors.” Among other sponsors are Thorgren Tool & Molding, Boulder Bay Realty, First Source Bank, Kauffman Chiropractic, Lakeside Wealth Management, Ivan Bodensteiner, Southlake Rehab LLC, Rotary Valparaiso, Bionic Prosthetics & Orthotics, Dr. Gaurav Kumar, and Re/Max Pace Realty. In-kind donations were provided by Rusthead Design, Boy Conn Printers, Simko Signs, Walmart, and Walgreens. Noted artist Barbara Spies Labus designed the 2018 festival poster.

For more information about the World Cultural Festival and other programs of the Valparaiso International Center, visit its website at www.valpovic.org or call (219) 464-1122.

Sue Baxter