Kent celebrates its cultural heritage at International Festival

Organizers count on local performers, food, arts and craft vendors to make the Kent International Festival such a strong community event. The second annual free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 26 at the Town Square Plaza Park at the corner of Second Avenue and West Smith Street.

Ester Kim performs a silk dance at the 2009 Kent International Festival.

Ester Kim performs a silk dance at the 2009 Kent International Festival.

Organizers count on local performers, food, arts and craft vendors to make the Kent International Festival such a strong community event.

The second annual free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 26 at the Town Square Plaza Park at the corner of Second Avenue and West Smith Street.

“It’s a fabulous event,” said Kent City Councilwoman Deborah Ranniger, who attended the festival last year. “There’s dancing and music from all over the world. It’s definitely something everyone should check out and celebrate the diversity of our community.”

Harpreet Gill, festival chairwoman and the owner of East Hill Indian eatery Punjab Sweets, said organizers make sure the event features local residents.

“Our niche is to have local performers, vendors and food,” Gill said. “Other festivals might bring in big names from the outside and that’s fine for them. But there is nothing more special than to see your child or a neighbor’s kid perform. It brings out the neighbors, friends and family.”

The theme of the festival is “Learn from Each Other.”

Festival goers can visit more than 30 food, arts and craft vendors. Local Indian, Mexican, Greek, Thai and Japanese restaurants will set up booths near the water fountains at the park.

The entertainment stage in the northwest corner of the park will feature 16 performers, including numerous dance groups, a singing group and a martial arts group.

A fashion show takes the stage at 1:15 p.m. to display costumes from Africa, India, China and other countries.

Organizers borrowed Kentwood High School’s flag collection to set up a pavilion where the summer and holiday carousel normally sits.

“People will be able to see the flags from a lot of countries,” Gill said.

Children can try hands-on activities at plenty of interactive booths. They can learn origami, calligraphy and other skills.

The festival will run in conjunction with the Kent Farmer’s Market. The market runs every Saturday at Town Square Plaza Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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