International Festival this weekend

Jocelyn Robinson

Bowling Green’s international community will gather in Fountain Square Park this Saturday to celebrate the cultural diversity of the town.

The International Festival will feature authentic food, music, dance and merchandise from families and businesses in the area.

“The festival is like a showcase, block party, bazaar, street dance and flea market all in one,” said International Program director Larry Caillouet.

Tables and booths displaying and selling items from around the world will be set up throughout the park. Past items have included hand knit sweaters from Peru and woodcarvings from Ghana.

In addition to merchandise, vendors will also be making and selling food from their countries of origin.

Music and entertainment is a large part of the festival, with a variety of performances on four stages throughout the day. One stage will feature traditional Arabic and Vietnamese dance, as well as a Cambodian fashion show. Musicians will perform a variety of music such as salsa, reggae and Celtic on the other three stages.

Thirty countries will be represented at the festival with displays and exhibits, including Turkey, Indonesia, Bosnia and China.?Many of Western’s international students will be involved.

“Bowling Green has a lot of countries represented in it, not only on campus, but around town as well,” Caillouet said.

Traditionally held over fall break, the festival’s date was moved up this year to give students the opportunity to attend, said Kim Mason, executive director of the International Festival.

“It’s a unique opportunity (for students) to see some of the diverse faces in the community and learn about their cultures,” Mason said. “It’s also a lot of fun.”

The festival will also feature two art exhibits. “Faces of Kentucky” features portraits of refugees and immigrants taken by photojournalism professor Tim Broekema and the Mark Oval Black Juried Art exhibit features 45 entries from professional and emerging artists.

The event is free and starts at 10 a.m. The stages and booths will be open until 6 p.m. After that, there will be a street dance. Although music for the dance has usually been performed by a band, this year a DJ will be playing dance hits from around the world.