Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival set for April 14

Music, dancing, ethnic foods, educational cultural booths, and plenty of children’s activities will fill the Kansas City Kansas Community College Field House Saturday, April 14, for the 7th Annual “Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.”

More than 40 countries, ethnicities and organizations affiliated with Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. -6:00 p.m. The festival is open to the public without charge and parking is also free.

This will be the second year for the successful silent auction organized by free-lance writer and photographer Bettse Folsom. In addition, this year’s event will also feature the presentation of  “Legends of Diversity” awards to Ed Grisnk and Chester Owens.

“This is a great educational and community building event for people who live, work, attend schools or have ties to Wyandotte County,” says Dr. Curtis V. Smith, Professor of Biological Sciences at KCKCC and one of the organizers of this year’s festival.

According to the co-founder of the event in 2006, former college trustee Karen Hernandez, The Human Family Reunion is “Designed to foster a climate of inclusiveness, promote better human relations and educate each other about common humanity.”

The festival was introduced to celebrate Wyandotte County’s greatest asset – its diversity and all the unique culture of people who live, work or attend schools in the county. According to Hernandez, who is now an event sponsor, “The festival is grounded in Martin Luther King’s vision of what being part of a ‘Beloved Community’ meant – equal opportunity and justice built on a solid foundation of agape or brotherly love.”

Back again as the perennial Master of Ceremonies, Clarence Small, warns the community not to miss the start of the festival when Shawn Derritt, a counselor at KCKCC and outstanding professional singer, will kick off the event at 11:30 a.m. sharp with a rousing spiritual version of “America the Beautiful” accompanied by Alice Jenkins.

Returning for the seventh year in row is Ed Grisnik’s Strawberry Hill Folk Ensemble with Mathematics Prof. John Soptick on accordion performing Croatian, Polish and Slovenian folk music. Other entertainment includes the local Croatian group, Hrvatski Obicaj Orchestra; Nartan Performance Dance from India; the ever-popular West of Marrkesh Dancers; Los Bailadores Mexican Dancers; local rap artist Roger Suggs; Tikvah Isreali Folk Dancers; the KCKCC Jazz Choirs, Irish Folk Dancers, Columbian Cumbia Dancers, a Costa Rican guitar duo, Peruvian pan flute artist Fernando Boza, and the St. Monica Inspirational Choir.  Jamaican reggae band Soul Captives will cap the event starting at 5:30 p.m.

Nearly 20 countries will be represented in the food court featuring “soul food,” vegetarian-Italian, Greek, Mexican, egg rolls, and specialty coffees.  Plenty of fresh purified filter water will be available along with mint tea for free.

Special educational presentations will be made by the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, the Quindaro Museum of History, the Agricultural Hall of Fame and the Historical Journal of Wyandotte County along with Chinese Qugong and Tai Chi demonstrations.  In addition, there will be an outdoor Creative Children’s Tent supervised by the Director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Barbara-Clark Evans, and featuring entertainment by the Renaissance Festival and a special Radio Disney venue focusing on transportation safety.

“The Festival would not be possible without the generous support of the community college and community sponsors,” said Smith. “Their support makes everything possible and the committee extends its heartfelt appreciation.”

For more information about performance times, the list of ethnic groups or organizational participants, or items to be sold at the silent auction, visit