Multicultural Festival is coming up June 20-22

For about the last decade, a variety of entertainment, food and wares from many cultures have decorated Parkersburg City Park in June.

Since 1996, the Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival has graced the park with the culture of Eastern Europe, Asia and classic American.

The festival has been a recipient of Artsbridge funds for many years and Jane Irvine, executive director of Artsbridge, said the festival follows very closely the mission of Artsbridge.

“It brings a really wide variety of arts activities to the Mid-Ohio Valley,” she said. “It brings an opportunity not only for the public to go and see (these activities) but to bring different performers into the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

Rick Rubin, president and concession manager, said there are many fun activities this year for festival goers, especially children.

“One thing that’s new is we have some Korean food coming in,” he said. “We’ve never had that before. We also have a dinosaur (skeleton), the ‘alarming lizard.’ It’s 23 feet long and nine feet wide. We’ve been trying to get it to the festival for three years now. We’re really excited about that.”

Bea Corra, founding member, said the festival was founded with the help of Eugene Donaway after the Ku Klux Klan started appearing all over the area.

“We decided it was a proactive stance we would take,” Corra said. “We formed the festival appreciative of differences; not of how differences can divide us but the appreciative of differences and how that can bring us together…We try to do the proactive thing and be a positive force in the community instead of reacting to anything negative that might happen.”

Rubin said they hope to always be able to offer the festival for free.

“One thing we do pride ourselves on is it’s free admission to the festival,” he said. “Attendees) get to see the type of things we don’t have in this area.”

He said in addition to the dino skeleton, there is a children’s activity center, where one event in particular has been a hit.

“For the last three to four years, we’ve had a drum making workshop,” Rubin said. “It’s something that’s been successful. Usually some things won’t be as popular as time goes on, but every year we keep adding more and more drum kits to the drum making seminar.”

Corra said the fun thing about the festival is the variety that can be found throughout the park.

“(We have) different kinds of ethnic foods and things people would purchase for their home or clothing,” she said.

She added that by taking a survey of attendees, the all-volunteer board found out what event goers wanted.

“Two years ago, we started a new area at the festival: the International Boulevard, with exhibits and educational displays from countries,” Corra said. “We did a survey and one of the things people wanted was to learn about people from different countries…We ask people with different nationalities to do…posters and memorabilia, things that represent their heritage.”

Corra said that the park provides a good environment for the event.

“We have almost outgrown the area, but we love the park,” she said. “It’s shady and makes for a relaxed, laid back feel to it. It’s not an area that necessitates continual movement. People will bring a chair and sit in the shade in the park all day.”

In fact, Corra said the performers, whether music or dancing, are a popular attraction.

“We offer entertainment that’s family oriented,” she said. “We try to bring in things people don’t have the opportunity to see without going outside the area. We have high-quality performers in their particular genre.”

Entertainment during the opening night of the festival includes an African theme night with Kenya Safari Acrobats.

Rubin said what makes the festival great is there’s something for everybody.

“Mom can shop…kids can go the free children’s activities area,” he said. “It’s a well-rounded festival and there’s something for everybody.”