KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College will bring an ethnic flair to Wyandotte County next month with the 10th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.
The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at the KCKCC Athletic Field House, 7250 State Ave. The event is free and open to the public. There is also no charge for parking.
“The goal of the festival is to bring people together to enjoy different types of music, dance, foods and to educate each other about different ethnicities and cultures,” said Curtis Smith, professor of biological sciences at KCKCC and co-organizer of the WyCo Ethnic Festival. “The festival is like a trip around the world with no cost. It's an opportunity to celebrate the pure joy of being human without the trappings of politics or economics for one day.”
More than 45 countries, ethnicities and organizations affiliated with Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival. In addition, two individuals will be recognized with the “Legends of Diversity” award - Kamiasha Tyner and Janith English.
Smith said the goal of the festival, which was started by former KCKCC Trustee Karen Hernandez and the former director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Professor Melanie Scott, is 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.
Back again as the perennial Master of Ceremonies is Clarence Small. Shawn Derritt, director of the Student Advising Center at KCKCC and his wife Gloria, will kick off the event with “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by a rousing spiritual version of “America the Beautiful.”
New to the festival this year is Kolograde, a musical combo performing music from the Balkans; a Columbian dance group, Sabor a Peru Dancers and a Latin Jazz Combo in tribute to Cuba. Notable returnees are Danny Hinds and Ayotunde, who will provide Caribbean music; the Harvatski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra; Nartan Dancers from India; the ever-popular West of Marrkesh Dancers; Los Bailadores Mexican Dancers; local rap artist Roger Suggs; Tikvah Israeli Folk Dancers; the St. Monica Inspirational Choir and a South Korean TaeKown Do demonstration.
In the food court area there will be six different vendors with traditional ethnic food ranging from “soul food,” Indian and Mexican to Peruvian and Columbian foods. In addition, free water and mint tea will be available. Caffeinated drinks can be purchased from the pop machine. Popcorn will be sold by “Combat Corn.” Proceeds go to support veterans.
Educational presentations will be made by the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, the Quindaro Museum of History, the Wyandotte Historical Journal of Wyandotte County and Chinese Qugong and Tai Chi. In addition, there will be an indoor Creative Children’s Tent supervised by the director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Barbara-Clark Evans.
“The festival would not be possible without the generous support of the community college and community sponsors,” Smith said. “Their support makes everything possible and the committee extends its heartfelt appreciation.”
College sponsors include the KCKCC Endowment Association, Enrollment Management Division, Athletics, Buildings and Grounds, Music Department, Sound Engineering, Campus Police and the Intercultural Center. Community sponsors are the Unified Government Human Relations Commission and Community Development Department; the Board of Public Utilities; Wyandotte Daily News/Providence Building; Dos Mundos Publications; Google Fiber, Gene Hernandez and Imagine Magic Productions and co-founder of the festival, Melanie Scott.
“It is an annual celebration that promotes cultural awareness and inclusion in WyCo,” Smith said. “We especially highlight our greatest strength, which is our diversity while at the same time celebrating our common humanity.”
For more information about performance times, the list of ethnic groups or organizational participants, please visit www.freewebs.com/wycoethnicfestival/.