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Global Village Festival brings international flair to Lock 3

9/5/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Mame Daiko is shown performing at last year’s Global Village Festival of Greater Akron.
Architha Dwarakanath dances an Indian dance during last year’s Global Village Festival of Greater Akron.
Photos: Ken Crisafi
DOWNTOWN AKRON — A melting pot of cultures will be mixing things up at the second annual Global Village Festival of Greater Akron at Lock 3 Park Sept. 14.

The festival, from 1 to 8 p.m., will feature entertainment, food, children’s activities and information on the many cultures and ethnic groups that call Akron home, according to organizers.

A small committee of cultural community members and founding partners that include Asian Services In Action Inc., International Institute of Akron, Akron International Friendship, United Way of Summit County (UWSC), Lock 3 and the city of Akron established the first celebration of international cultures held a year ago.

“Akron is becoming such a great melting pot, we thought we ought to take advantage of all the different cultures here and bring them together,” said the UWSC’s Michael Gaffney, who is serving as marketing chair for the event. “So many cultures do a festival of their own, so we thought it would be great to meld them together.”

Festival Committee Coordinator Helena Larios said she worked on last year’s inaugural festival. This year, Larios said organizers were able to identify more cultural groups — 31 total — to include in this year’s festivities.

She added it’s hard to say what the day’s biggest highlights will be, but she said the entertainment this year will be something to see.

“We’re very proud of this,” she said. “We’ll be on four different stages this year.”

The Lock 3 stage will include performances by musical groups performing Irish, Russian and Caribbean music, while the Lock 4 stage will feature the music and dance of Laos, Scotland, India, the Middle East, Central and South America and Africa.

The Variety stage schedule includes a fencing demonstration, gospel music, hand bells and a flag dance troupe. The Athletics/Cultural Demo stage will feature demonstrations of hooping, Zumba, tai chi, martial arts, yoga, Masala Bhangra and Bokwa.

The Kids Nation area will provide children with activities such as crafts, games and contests, including the Diaper Dash and Toddler Trot. Contestants can register at the festival website or at the event.

Food will be for sale at the World Café, and diners are in for a treat, Larios said.

“People can experience cooking demos with chefs and purchase traditional dishes from countries,” she said. “We worked with each of the groups on what we’d call home-cooked meals.”

There will also be a World Market with items for sale.

Two additional attractions include an interfaith discussion on social injustice at 3 p.m. and a “Teen Talk” session titled “Walking Through the Looking Glass — Telling the Story of You” at 6 p.m.

Larios said all the groups taking part are based in Akron.

Gaffney said organizers think the Global Village Festival is unique and has potential to grow. He said they have looked to a similar festival in St. Louis that spans several city blocks.

“That’s our gold standard, that someday we’re going to get to that size,” he said.

Larios said the free event is a great way for people to explore other cultures and maybe even their own while learning more about the world.

“The world is small, but it’s still very, very vast, and there is so much to learn and appreciate,” she said.

For more information, go to www.akrongvf.org. Lock 3 Park is located at 200 S. Main St.

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