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Global Village Festival celebrating Akron’s melting pot

9/4/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Shown is a performer at last year’s Global Village Festival.
Photo courtesy of Helena Larios
DOWNTOWN AKRON — This year’s Global Village Festival, which will take place Sept. 13 at Lock 3, 200 S. Main St., was created by our communities to share with our communities, said Helena Larios, festival coordinator.

The third annual celebration of Akron’s melting pot of cultures had to be expanded to accommodate all those who wanted to be a part of it this year, Larios said. This year’s festival will run from noon to 9 p.m. and admission is free.

Some cultures represented this year include Bhutanese, Karen, Lao, Hmong, Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Columbian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Nepali, Irish, Arabic nations and the African-American experience, she said.

An extensive fair trade market is one focus of the festival, Larios said. Partnering with 10,000 Villages, a Northeast Ohio fair trade retailer, the festival will offer many items created outside the United States, including dolls, purses, ornamental ceramics, jewelry, clothing from around the world and chocolate from Central and South America, Larios said. A portion of the sales price of each item will be returned to the artisan or grower, she added.

Larios promises an exciting opening ceremony at noon and a sizzling finale as the festival closes at 9 p.m. with performances by Andrea Love, cultural musicians and the Ohio Burn Unit, a company of fire jugglers, fire breathers, fire eaters, dancers, stilt walkers and jugglers.

Larios encourages anyone attending the festival to come with an open mind.

“We will be talking about different religions. You’ll hear different languages and see different wardrobes,” she said.

But at the end of the day, she said she hopes those who attend the festival will realize that, at the center, we’re all human.

“We’re celebrating differences, but we’re one humanity. Understanding that is how we can bring peace to our city,” she said.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Heirloom Gardens.” The Global Village Festival ambassadors have been working all summer at the festival’s garden on Princeton Road, growing fruits and vegetables they offered for donations at the Lock 3 farmers’ market, Larios said. The festival is seeking recipes to be incorporated into a cookbook festival organizers hope to have for sale by late December. The festival will have cooking demonstrations throughout the day.

Cultural performances are scheduled throughout the day on the Lock 3 stage. Among the performances will be Native American, Irish, Latin American, African American, Hmong, Bhutanese and Arabic cultural dance and music.

Multicultural foods also will be available for sale, Larios said. Among the vendors are Here’s the Scoop, serving ice cream that will be churned onsite; popcorn from the Native American Association and fruit ice pops, she added. Cajun and American Southern cuisines also will be featured, she said.

The Artful Cricket, a Cuyahoga Falls henna tattoo artist, is the festival’s featured artisan, Larios said.

Lathardus Goggins III, author of “Bringing the Light into a New Day: African-Centered Rites of Passage” will lead one of several community dialogues, she added.

The Festival Fitness Party at Lock 4 will feature Tai Chi by NG Energy, Zumba Fitness and Pound workouts that incorporate drumming. Participants will pay $10, and part of the proceeds will benefit a local nonprofit service agency, according to festival organizers.

Among this year’s sponsors are Joshua Tree Productions, Confucius Institute, International Institute of Akron, Akron International Friendship, UDS and May and Chun Fu Chen, according to festival organizers.

In 2012, a small committee of cultural community members and the founding partners that included Asian Services In Action Inc., International Institute of Akron, Akron International Friendship, United Way of Summit County, Lock 3 and the City of Akron established the first annual celebration of international cultures, according to festival organizers.

For more information, visit www.akrongvf.org.

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