The Owensboro Multicultural Festival: 25 Years Celebrating the Beauty of Diversity in our Community
The first Owensboro Multicultural Festival was organized in 1999 at First Presbyterian Church by Ms. Winny Lin. The goal was and still is "to help people celebrate their own heritage and invite them to reach beyond themselves by learning about other cultural traditions." I first attended in 2001 when I was a freshman in high school. As an OHS Rose Curtain Player, we presented skits of various cultural fairy tales on the steps of the church. It is amazing to see how much it has grown over the years.
On Saturday, August 19th, 2023, the festival will celebrate 25 years of bringing thousands of diverse Owensborans together with the theme One Community, Many Voices.
The opening ceremony begins on the stage at 10:00 AM with the crowd's favorite bagpiper to celebrate the church's Scottish heritage. The national anthem will be performed by the OHS Choir while OHS Color Guard presents the colors and begins the People's Parade. A yearly tradition where all countries represented march with their flags as a symbol of unity.
Various entertainment follows throughout the day with performances by Bluegrass Community Theatre, demonstrations of Korean Tae Kwon Do, The 4th Street Baptist Dance Team, Juliana Gaynor will be singing some beautiful Spanish folk music, Prism Arts Alliance Poetry Reading, and so much more.
Be sure to come hungry because there will also be a variety of food vendors serving up traditional dishes from their respective cultures. Just a little taste of what to expect so you can plan your selections from Jamaican Yard Vibes (curry and jerk), Taqueria la Bendicion de Dios food truck (Mexican), Native Tacos by: Noble Character (Native American tacos served on fry bread), and Freaky Tiki Shaved Ice food truck (shaved ice.) Of course, BBQ will be included from Follow the Smoke!
Jeff Moles is the Director of Christian Education & Mission at First Presbyterian Church. He beautifully recounts the 2022 festival, “Last year’s festival was a highlight of the time I have lived in Owensboro. I will never forget seeing a young boy from Ukraine lead the People’s Parade, men from Afghanistan proudly singing their anthem, or families from Burma sharing their food. The world has come to us in so many ways, and it is a holy experience to encounter the traditions, hospitality, and joy of people who have made their home here."
All countries will have booths where you can learn about their culture and heritage. Before you make your rounds, stop by the Festival Information Booth and pick up a Passport to help navigate the array of booths. I asked the chair of the Festival committee, Debbie McCoy, which countries/cultures will be represented this year. "Bolivia, Cuba, Cyprus, Ghana, Korea, Myanmar/Burma, Native Hawaiian & Native American, New Zealand, Owensboro's Black community, Scotland, Spain, Thailand, and the LGBTQ+ community. The International Center is representing the many countries their clients have come from including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, Congo, and Ukraine to name a few." Wow! What an exciting turnout this will be!
If the experience inspires you to investigate your own heritage, the Daviess County Public Library's Kentucky Room will be there with tips on how to trace your genealogy. How awesome is that?
The organizers of this event say they have a vision of Owensboro as a community that welcomes all people. Such a wonderful thing to aspire to! Debbie said "Our main goal of the festival is to start conversations that can continue to build understanding and respect in our community. We celebrate our differences in a way that strengthens our work together for a better community." Thank you to sponsors Owensboro Health, Thacker Wealth & Retirement - Raymond James, Southern Star, Boardwalk Pipeline, UniFirst, First Presbyterian Church, Atmos Energy, Independence Bank, and Kurtz Auction.