If variety is the spice of life than downtown Fayetteville, NC is “muy caliente”. Today marked the start of the 34th Annual International Folk Festival, lasting through Sunday, September 30th. At 10:30 AM this morning, the event launched with the Parade of Nations – a display of diversity down historic Hay Street. With representation from over twenty nationalities, a host of artisans, musicians, and food vendors descended upon Festival Park, assailing the senses with their bright colors and thrilling sounds. A cornucopia of sights and scents lay in store for your inner wander. The smoky aroma of gently charred kabobs fill the air as you take in the sights of rhythmic belly dancers twirling to the intoxicating beat of drums.
Take an epicurean trip and sample dishes from across the globe from the Caribbean Islands to Africa; from Europe to China. Stop at Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico or Ghana. Got some spare time and a bigger appetite, then head off to Great Britain, Greece, Thailand and Vietnam. Feeling adventurous? Try pansit from the Philippines – a clear noodle dish with chicken, vegetable, and spices particular to Pilipino cuisine. Of course you can’t have a festival in the South without sampling spicy barbecue with buttery sweet potato.
There is also an International Kid’s Area equipped with bouncers and a soundstage where they can learn about Indian dancing, enjoy face painting and take in a magic show.
What is amazing about all this is that there is no admission fee to the Festival. It all takes place in an open air environment. The food vendor prices are also reasonable – you can get a combo plate from $6.00 to $8.00 dollars. Feeling sluggish from all the carbs? Then fill up with Thai Ice Coffee for only two dollars.
All this is made possible with the partnership of public and private entities with the key public players being the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, City of Fayetteville, and Cumberland County. Private partners included the Fayetteville Observer, Cape Fear Eye Associates, Coca-Cola, BB&T, and Miller-Motte College. Events such as these showcase what cooperation can produce – increased tourism and economic development, a high quality of life for local citizens, and educational opportunities for our children. Possibly the greatest beneficiaries from all this is our children with whom our hopes for a more tolerant and compassionate future lie. At the very least, they will learn that the whole world is right at their doorsteps.
Festivities continue through Sunday, Sept. 30th, starting at 12PM.
For more information about the Festival and upcoming events, check out http://www.theartscouncil.com/iff.php.