89th annual International Festival returns Oct. 10-11

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published September 29, 2015

 Detroit School of Performing Arts dancers perform during the International Festival last year.

Detroit School of Performing Arts dancers perform during the International Festival last year.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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SOUTHFIELD — Each year, attendees of the International Festival have the chance to take a trip around the world in a day, and all they have to do is enter the Southfield Pavilion.


Now in its 89th year, the International Festival, a weekend event celebrating the world’s vast array of cultures, will get underway Oct. 10-11 at the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road.


The event is sponsored by the city of Southfield and the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit.


This year’s festival will kick off at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9, with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services swearing-in ceremony of new citizens. Last year, according to Community Relations Director Michael Manion, more than 100 immigrants from 43 countries were sworn in as new citizens.


The festival will continue noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11, complete with an International Bazaar for vendors to show off their wares, several different food vendors and various dance performances.


International Institute Global Education Director Nada Dalgamouni said the event started in 1926 as a way for new Americans to get acclimated to their surroundings.


“It was for immigrants who came to this country who were going through hard times or tough economic situations. They would use their skills — needlepoint, painting, doing jewelry — and they would be gathered in the building at the International Institute in October to have the International Festival, but at that time it was called the Old World Market,” Dalgamouni said.


“The festival itself is one of the city’s big events because it celebrates diversity,” Manion said. “Southfield is such a diverse community. Folks can travel the world in a day with no passport required.”


The Detroit Institute of Arts will bring its mobile, interactive classroom called DIA Away: Think Like an Artist.


DIA Away is a 53-foot, double-expandable trailer that will provide attendees with an interactive educational program focusing on hands-on learning activities.


Manion said there will be a different cultural performance every half hour at the event to educate attendees on the groups’ backgrounds.


The finale of the festival will be a parade of nations dressed in traditional attire, and the members of the parade will then perform together.


“I think we need to encourage people to bring their children,” Dalgamouni said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for everybody to start thinking globally and acting locally. After all, it’s the only planet we have. We have to keep it intact; we have to build a nice relationship between each other.”


Admission to the International Festival costs $3 per person for the entire weekend, or $5 per family.  Parking is free.


For more information, call Southfield Community Relations at (248) 796-5130.

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