Visitors can take a tour of the world in one day at the 21st annual Portage County Cultural Festival, one of Wisconsin’s largest one-day international events.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH), located at 1201 North Point Drive in Stevens Point. The festival features entertainment, food, children’s activities, demonstrations and vendors. Like previous years, the event is free.
“We’re expecting 12,000 to 14,000 people to attend,” said Liz Fulton, a member of the Cultural Festival’s Steering Committee. “We’re dedicated to making the event free because we want to make it accessible. The community has been wonderfully supportive,” she said.
New to this year’s event are the Tatra Slovak Dancers and Limanya, which is an African dance group. There will also be a Viking knit jewelry demonstration and booth.
A variety of cultures are represented in the event, and the entertainment is found mostly through performances at other cultural festivals, said Fulton.
“Many performers want to come back the next year and sometimes we have to rotate them,” she said.
Fulton, who has been attending the festival since 1995, said she enjoys talking to many different people and watching the day’s events.
“I love the food, the learning and everyone being together,” she said. “It’s fun seeing people have fun.”
The festival will begin with an opening performance by the Rosholt Elementary School music students and a community welcome by Portage County Executive Patti Drier.
In the Auditorium will be Tonantzin Dance Company; The McDance Company, Irish performers; Dnipro Ukranian Dancers; Syrena Polish Dancers; Salaam, music of the Middle East; Limanya; Shuvani Bellydance Troupe; and Bhangra Club, dances of India.
In the North Tent will be Pommersche Danz Gruppe; Mito de Soto; Salaam; Norm Dombrowski’s Happy Notes, community Polka dance; Dancers of Shaharazad; Royal Scottish County Dance Society; Bhangra Club; Tatra Slovak Dancers; and Shuvani.
In the Field House Stage will be Native American Music and Dance; Drowsy Maggies, traditional Irish music; GoonGoo Peas; Ronald Silva; Tatra; Mito de Soto; Tom McComb Quartet; Syrena; UWSPercussion Ensemble; and Dekorra, Americana.
In the North Commons will be Taiwan Puppet Troupe; Pommersche; Miss Czech Slovak State Queen; Royal Scottish Country Dance; GoonGoo Peas; Lil’ Rev, Jewish and Yiddish folk songs; Celia Farran, Celtic storyteller; Hmong Dance Troupe; and Dancers of Shaharazad.
In the Main Entry Terrace (weather permitting) will be Pommersche; Tonantzin; Limanya; UWSPercussion; and community open Irish music session with the Drowsy Maggies (in inclement weather, the location will be in the orchestra room).
In the Hallway and North Entrance will be Jersey Polka Richie, Shari Sarazin, Mito de Soto, and Ronald Silva.
Mini language classes will be available from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Japanese, German, Russian, Polish, Burmese, French, Thai, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and Korean will be taught.
Ethnic artists will demonstrate crafts in the South Commons. Arts and crafts will be on display and for sale at the festival.
The Children’s Corner will provide cultural activities for kids. Activities include Buddha rubbings, red paper lanterns and origami animals.
Food from many different countries will be represented at the festival including Jamaica, India, Ireland, France, Poland and Vietnam.
Fulton estimates there are 500 Cultural Festival volunteers who work each year. There are many ways to be involved in the Festival, including set-up, security, food and hospitality.
To volunteer, visit www.volunteersrock.org and click on “Volunteer at an Event.” For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Carol Okray at firstname.lastname@example.org. To participate in the Cultural Festival fundraiser, contact Mary Cayford at 715-824-6008.
Parking is available at SPASH, on the streets surrounding the school and at the Chase Bank parking lot in downtown Stevens Point, where shuttle buses to and from the event will be available.
More information, including a complete event schedule, is available online at www.PortageCountyCulturalFestival.org.