The patchy downpours couldn’t wash away the color of the Bowling Green International Festival as the cultural event returned to Circus Square Park on Saturday, putting the diversity of the community center stage.
Amid the disruption of 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s festival was held virtually, but for longtime seller Sandy Sanchez – who offered a mix of Ecuadorian and Peruvian crafts – the festival of this year was as dynamic as any other.
Sanchez, who is Ecuadorian, has been attending the festival for 30 years and says it gives her a chance to show off her own culture in an authentic way.
âThe things I sell are handmade by people,â Sanchez said, contrasting the merchandise with the mass-produced loot you’d see at any other festival.
The sounds of Sanchez’s Andean clay bird water whistles chirped throughout the park, a popular item she had to offer. Between attracting customers, Sanchez also enjoyed visiting several cultural stages set up throughout the park.
Overcoming a slight delay in rain on Saturday morning, Tuatha Dea – which bills itself as a “Celtic, tribal, gypsy rock ground with an Appalachian steampunk touch” – has made its return to the festival.
Other stages around the park featured African drums, Nepalese cultural dances, and Cajun and Zydeco accordion music.
Louisville resident Grace Jackson of Nubian Grace made her debut at the event on Saturday, selling a mix of colorful Liberian headwear, matching earrings and face masks featuring West African designs.
âI love to see what I can imagine come to life,â Jackson said of her craft, which she also described as cathartic to her.
Jackson pays special attention as she creates a new headwear, with an eye for coordination and sets.
âI’m always on the lookout for beautiful fabrics,â said Jackson, who said she was known as the âlady of the scarfâ. Her work can be found at nubiangrace.com.
In Liberia, where Jackson is from, a woman’s headscarf can indicate marital status, protect her hair, or be worn as a centerpiece.
âWe like to say it’s our crown,â she said. “It’s just another way of expressing yourself.”
At a nearby booth, which rang to the sound of Burmese percussion instruments, San Yee was dressed in the traditional dress of her people – the Thai Yai.
Yee represented the largest Shan ethnic group, one of many vibrant ethnic groups in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma.
Yee said she appreciated the opportunities for cultural exchange offered by the International Festival.
âI think it’s very interesting to connect with the community I’m in,â Yee said.
In between helping out at the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth community organizing group’s booth, attendees Francisco Serrano and Daisy Carter took the time to experience the sights and sounds of the festival.
Carter, herself the coordinator of the mutual aid organization Rise and Shine, said she hoped the spirit of the International Festival would not be one-off and the community would continue to support various business owners throughout. of the year.
âI would love to see this more at Bowling Green,â she said.
Serrano agreed, hoping the community wouldn’t let his support be a one-time deal.
âThe next step is to support these communities,â he said.