The sights, sounds and smells of the Owensboro Multicultural Festival are returning to Griffith Avenue on Saturday. The event was founded in 1999 by the congregation of First Presbyterian Church and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Debbie McCoy of Owensboro, the current festival chair, joined the organizers a few years later.
“We wanted a way to celebrate diversity in the community and kind of foster an understanding of different facets of the community in order to build stronger relationships,” McCoy said.
McCoy says there is still work to do in the area of promoting cultural understanding.
“[The festival] has started a lot of conversations and that works toward our main goal of getting people to talk,” she said. “We realize that we aren’t going to change anything overnight, but if we can start the process of people understanding all of our differences and how we are also similar, we are accomplishing something.”
This year’s festival will include an interfaith service in the First Presbyterian sanctuary from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Rev. Christine Coy Fohr, the pastor of First Presbyterian, is organizing the service.
In addition to the interfaith service, at least 15 different cultural groups will be represented by someone in our community. Other local groups with international connections like Habitat for Humanity and the international center will also be on hand.
The information booths are staffed by local residents showcasing various cultures represented by residents of the Owensboro community.
El Salvador has joined the festival for the first time this year.
Students can visit the festival information booth to obtain a passport to use while visiting the informational booths at the festival.
“They use the passport to get the answers to trivia questions or collect scavenger hunt items,” said McCoy. “When they are done they take it back to the info booth and get a small prize.”
For anyone interested in tasting cultural differences, the popular Chinese food offerings from New China Buffet are returning, and Gangnam Korean Barbecue is bringing Korean food to the festival for the first time.
New in festival entertainment this year is the appearance of 12-year-old fiddler Mackenzie Bell. The Owensboro Dance Theater Rising Stars led by Shauna Jones will also perform.
The Multicultural Festival will be held Saturday, August 18, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church at 1328 Griffith Avenue. Admission is free.
For more information about this year’s offerings or to see photos from previous festivals, please visit the Owensboro Multicultural Festival Facebook page.