Music, dancing and ethnic foods will fill the Kansas City Kansas Community College Field House as part of the 12th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.
The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival is from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 15 in the KCKCC Field House, 7250 State Ave. Admission and parking are free. Ethnic food will be available for purchase.
The goal of the festival is to celebrate Wyandotte County’s greatest asset – its diversity.
“The WyCo Ethnic Festival brings the community together to celebrate our cultural and ethnic diversity, the asset that makes our community a great place to live, work and attend school,” said Karen Hernandez, president of the WyCo Ethnic Festival. “The global society that we live in makes it desirable that we all get to know one another since we all must work together to create the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about. His Dream of inclusion, agape love and unity is what will make life better for everyone. Dr. King’s Dream was the inspiration for the festival.”
More than 60 organizations, countries and ethnic groups from Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival through booths as well as onstage entertainment. Clarence Small, of the Kansas City, Kan. NAACP, will once again serve as master of ceremonies. The Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department’s Honor Guard will present the colors, followed by Shawn and Gloria Derritt singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.”
Another annual tradition is the awarding of the Legends of Diversity Award. This year’s honorees are Barbara Clark-Evans, director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center and Eyyup Esen, director of the Dialogue Institute Southwest.
Past honorees of the Legends of Diversity Award include Irene Caudillo, Alvin Sykes, Janith English, Kamiasha Tyner, Karen Hernandez, Melanie Scott, Loren Taylor, Pat Adams, Ed Grisnik, Chester Owens, Helen Walsh Folsom and Carol Levers.
“I think this festival is a fun way to educate ourselves and the community about our cultural differences and human similarities. Our common humanity is sometimes forgotten in the complex world we live in,” Hernandez said. “Technology has enabled us to communicate online, but there is nothing like face-to-face human contact, which is the basis for creating lifetime friendships and lasting relationships with other members of our One Human Family that we may have never before had a chance to meet. We are all connected because we are all human. The connection is much more powerful if we take the time to connect in person with those who are like us in more ways than we may realize.”
Everyone attending the festival will receive a souvenir program with a blank “passport” page that can be stamped at the various booths. All filled passports turned in at the Martin Luther King booth will be eligible for a prize drawing. Countries that will be represented this year include Kenya, India, Mexico, Turkey, Guatemala, Nigeria, Ireland, Croatia, Japan, Italy, Israel, Brazil, China, Germany and Lithuania, among others.
Among the entertainment groups are:
- Danny Hinds & Ayotunde – Barbados Drumming and Dance
- Havartski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra
- St. Monica Inspirational Choir
- West of Marrakesh Dancers
- School of Irish Dance
- Tikvah Dancers of Israel
- Hide in the Shallows, a Costa Rican guitar, cajon and voice performance
- Nartan Dancers of India
- Rose Marie’s Fiesta Mexicana
- Irie Tribal Dance
- Tez and Tam Gospel Music
- Garima Yaduz – solo dance from India
The Creative Children’s Corner, coordinated by the KCKCC Intercultural Center, will be located just inside the fieldhouse. Students majoring in the education program under Dr. Hira Nair will manage the Children’s Corner. Gene Hernandez will be providing balloon sculptures. The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department will have one of its fire trucks outside and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department will offer “Ident-Kid.”
The food court area will include ethnic foods from countries such as India, Gambia, Peru and Kenya as well as Healthy Foods by Naturally Designed. In addition Supreme Eatery, Elijah Rock Church and Blackbelt Jamaican Bar-b-que will be have food booths. There will be free filtered water and mint tea.
The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival Inc. is made possible by the support of KCKCC President Dr. Doris Givens and Susan Lindahl, Vice-President of Administrative Services at KCKCC; the KCKCC Campus Police and the KCKCC Buildings and Grounds Staff. The festival has a new Gold Sponsor this year - KKFI 90.1 FM public radio. The festival is organized by WyCo Ethnic Festival Inc., Karen Hernandez, Barbara Clark-Evans, Clarence Small, Dr. Hira Nair, Dr. Curtis V. Smith, Bill Yeazel and Sarah Jones.