Cultures converge downtown

Catherin Damron

Yoko Furukawa was happy to see the overnight rain clear up Saturday before the 13th Bowling Green International Festival at Fountain Square Park.

Furukawa, a senior from Japan, is a member of Western’s International Student Organization. Apart from the university budget, the festival is the organization’s main source of fund raising.

“We sell homemade bookmarks and write people’s names on them in different languages,” Furukawa said. “We also let people try on the yukapas and take pictures of them.”

Yukapas are similar to kimonos, except thinner and made with cheaper material.

Pedro Ochoa, a freshman from Honduras, was also downtown to share his culture, but not for fund raising.

“I am not here to sell and make money, I’m here with my country to share knowledge,” Ochoa said. “We are hard workers from a poor country who believe in peace. We want Bowling Green to be prepared for the next generation of ethnic minorities.”

There were four stages at the festival with music and dancing.

Among the performers were the Aimon String Quartet from Ulm, Germany, the Scott-Ellis Irish School of Dance, the African Culture University Drum and Dance Ensemble and Tom Pardue’s East-West Kung Fu Academy.

There were also booths representing the cultures of Indonesia, Korea, Ecuador, Honduras, Taiwan and Nigeria, among others.

The advanced choir class at Warren Central High School promoted Renaissance dinners and wore period costumes during the festival.

They also sang a collection of a cappella madrigals and motets from the Renaissance era.

Matthew Johnson, a sophomore at Warren Central, said he enjoyed the festival and thought it was “very diverse and interesting.”

But Western alumna Kai Wolfe expected more diversity of the cultures represented.

“They put lots of emphasis on Hispanics and Africans,” Wolfe said. “I would have liked to see more on Asian cultures.

“They also put more of a focus on food and clothing, but not much on art. There wasn’t much for the kids to do either. The rides that they did have didn’t have anything to do with the theme of the festival.”

Wolfe said the festival must make some adjustments if it hopes to remain an influential part of the community.

“If they leave the festival the way it is, it will stagnate,” she said. “If there’s more diversity, it has room to grow and expand.”

Reach Catherine Damron at [email protected]