Wednesday, April 16, 2014

9th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival a Success


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- More than 1,000 people from throughout the Wyandotte County area visited the Kansas City Kansas Community College Campus last weekend for the annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival – something that excites festival organizers.

“This was a great community event because it embodies the best in the spirit of Homo sapiens,” said Curtis V. Smith, committee member for the ethnic festival and professor of biological sciences at KCKCC. “It is a celebration of peace, agape love, our diversity and common humanity.”

An estimated 1,500 people attended the festival, which was April 12 in the KCKCC Field House. More than 50 organizations, countries and ethnicities from Wyandotte County were represented through booths as well as onstage entertainment. Clarence Small served as master of ceremonies.

“We may all look different, dress differently, eat different foods and have different cultural traditions (as well as different views on religion, politics and social issues), but deep down there is a unifying force that cannot be ignored unless we choose to do so,” said Karen Hernandez, co-founder of the festival and a former member of the KCKCC Board of Trustees. “That force is our ‘common humanity.’ Once we become aware of our global connection to one another, it changes how we view the world and gives us a reason to celebrate the wonderful diversity that was part of God’s plan all along. We are all special in His loving eyes, because we are all His children.”

Hernandez and Melanie Scott were presented with the Legends of Diversity Award. Scott, who along with Hernandez founded the festival, is also professor in the social and behavioral sciences department and former director of the Intercultural Center at KCKCC.

Among the criteria to be selected for the award are participation in organizing, planning or representing a country or ethnic group at the ethnic festival or culturally-related event in the Kansas City area; has made an effort to work together with a variety of people on issues benefiting the community; engineering the idea of peace and the spirit of cooperation in the community and world and reflecting with actions the ideal of building community. 

Past honorees of the Legends of Diversity Award include Loren Taylor, Pat Adams, Ed Grisnik, Chester Owens, Helen Walsh Folsom and Carol Levers.

Among the entertainment groups performing at the festival were The Gumbas, an Italian folk music group; Danny Hinds, a Caribbean drumming and dance group; the Hrvatski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra and the Ed Grisnik Orchestra, featuring John Soptick.

“My favorite part of the festival is seeing the joy of people in the goodness of others through food, music, dance and interconnected positive conversation about inclusiveness,” Smith said. “We hope people take home with them an inspirational vision in the hope for goodness of others that will lead humans forward to ‘doing the right thing’ for the betterment of all humankind.”

For more information on the Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival, visit