Hendricks County International Festival Focuses on Cultural Enrichment
Writer / Stephanie Singh
Indiana’s third season of the year is known to bring us fall foliage, pumpkins, apple cider, hayrides and football. In Hendricks County, fall is also the time to celebrate our cultural differences. On the first Saturday in October, the Hendricks County International Festival (HCIF) brings people together to celebrate and explore cultures from around the world through dance, food and conversation. This year, the HCIF is relocating to a county staple, The Shops at Perry Crossing, bringing new energy to the event. The fourth annual HCIF is a free, family-friendly event, lasting from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The rich colors, the unique sounds and the tasty cuisines are what bring us all together. In an effort to break down the barriers around our differences, event organizers are putting a special emphasis on food this year. Over 10 different food vendors will be present offering cuisines from around the world. While grabbing a bite to eat, patrons will have the opportunity to set up lawn chairs to view dance performances from India, Africa, Japan and other regions around the world.
Some of the most educational aspects of the festival are the cultural exhibit booths, ranging from henna tattoos to living-room setups encouraging attendees to really step in the shoes of those from other cultures.
Farah Effendi, an HCIF exhibitor, praises the mission of the last year’s festival. Effendi felt so moved by the event, she has since joined the planning committee. Farah, having had some negative experiences due to her race in the community, says this event shows how far we’ve come as a county. “Seeing this [event], having the International Festival – Islamic, Pakistan, all these different cultures, and the different dances from other countries – this is a huge step for this community,” Effendi says.
Farah is not alone. The sense of pride this event brings to the residents and visitors of Hendricks County radiates on that first Saturday in October. While we are celebrating our differences, we are sharing our similarities at the same time.
As the community grows, the diversity within it does as well. The HCIF planning committee is intentional in looking for other cultures to spotlight during the four-hour event. New this year will be presence from Bangladesh, Peru and China. The Chinese lion dance, which is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune, will move throughout the festival.
Festivalgoers will have plenty of opportunities to participate in different activities as well, including Chinese lantern painting, making their mark with “hands around the world,” and painting in the park, all focused on cultural enrichment.
Mark your calendars! Also, it is not too late to participate as a sponsor, vendor or volunteer. Visit hcinternationalfestival.com to learn how to support the HCIF mission.