Celebrate diversity at Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival April 13

by Kelly Rogge, KCKCC

Music, dancing and ethnic foods will fill the Kansas City Kansas Community College Field House as part of the 2019 Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.

The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival is from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the KCKCC Field House, 7250 State Ave. Admission and parking are free. Ethnic food will be available for purchase.

The goal of the festival is to celebrate Wyandotte County’s greatest asset – its diversity.

More than 50 organizations, countries and ethnic groups from Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival through booths as well as onstage entertainment.

Clarence Small, of the Kansas City, Kansas, NAACP, will once again serve as master of ceremonies. The Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department’s Honor Guard will present the colors and Shawn and Gloria Derritt will perform “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.”

“People should attend the Ethnic Festival to celebrate the beauty and majesty of human diversity while at the same recognizing our common humanity,” said Curtis Smith, professor of science at KCKCC and member of the festival organizing committee. “The festival offers free entrance, free parking, a children’s area and an exceptional indoor opportunity to share in fabulous ethnic foods and diverse cultural entertainment in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of making connections with all members of our human family.”

Another annual tradition is the awarding of the Legends of Diversity Award. This year’s honorees are Gordon Criswell and Dr. Hira Nair.

Criswell is the assistant county administrator for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. He has worked more than 30 years in state and local government management and 20 years as a clinical social worker for a non-profit organization. He serves on the board of the United Way and Bethel Neighborhood Center.

Nair is coordinator of the Teacher Education Program and professor of psychology at KCKCC. She serves on the college Intercultural Council, the Campus Art Committee and on the Board of the Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival. She functions as the academic liaison and community outreach member of the Executive Committee of the India Association of Kansas City and also promotes and educates college students from diverse ethnic backgrounds to become art curators by serving on the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship committee at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Recently Nair received a Federal Education partnership grant for Underserved and Place-bound students.

Past honorees of the Legends of Diversity Award include Dr. Ewa Unoke, Ed Chasteen, Irene Caudillo, Alvin Sykes, Janith English, Kamiasha Tyner, Karen Hernandez, Melanie Scott, Loren Taylor, Pat Adams, Ed Grisnik, Chester Owens, Helen Walsh Folsom, Barbara Clark-Evans, Eyyup Esen and Carol Levers.

Everyone attending the festival will receive a souvenir program with a blank “passport” page that can be stamped at the various booths. All filled passports turned in at the Martin Luther King booth will be eligible for a prize drawing. Countries that will be represented this year include Kenya, India, Mexico, Turkey, Guatemala, Nigeria, Ireland, Croatia, Japan, Italy, Israel, Brazil, China, Germany and Lithuania, among others.

Among the entertainment groups:
• St. Andrew Scottish Highland Dancers
• China Dancers
• Sabor a Peru
• Rose Marie’s Fiesta Mexicana
• St. George Serbian Choir
• Naartan Dancers
• Danny Cox – Folk Singer and Songwriter
• St. Monica Music Ministry
• Irish Dancers
• Malaysian Dancers
• Panamanian Dancers
• S.V. Blautaler German Dancers
• Hrvatski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra
• West of Marrakesh Dancers
• Hmong Dancers

“One new activity is the opportunity to personally investigate one’s own heritage at the Midwest Genealogy Center booth,” Smith said. “New entertainment this year will feature Chin (Laotian) Traditional Dance, Malaysian Dancers, Hmong Dancers, the St. George Choir and Folklore Dancers and the legendary folk singer Danny Cox.”

The Creative Children’s Corner, coordinated by the KCKCC Intercultural Center, will be located just inside the fieldhouse. Students majoring in the education program under Dr. Hira Nair will manage the Children’s Corner.

The food court area will include ethnic foods from countries such as India, Jamaica Blackbelt Bar-b-que, Serbian, BisYan Catering (Gambia), Kenya and Mexico. In addition African American cuisine and Healthy Foods by Naturally Designed will be have food booths. There will be free filtered water and mint tea.

The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival Inc. is made possible by the support of KCKCC President Dr. Greg Mosier and the KCKCC Administration; the KCKCC Campus Police and the KCKCC Buildings and Grounds Staff. The festival’s Gold Sponsors are the Unified Government of Wyandotte Council – Department of Human Service and Partners in Primary Care. Other sponsors and community partners include the KCKCC Intercultural Center, Imagine! Magic Productions, Gene and Karen Hernandez, Judy and Curtis Smith, El Centro, All-Star Awards & Ad Specialties, Burke Travel, Payless Office Products and KCKCC Trustee Ray Daniels.

The festival is organized by WyCo Ethnic Festival Inc., Karen Hernandez, Barbara Clark-Evans, Clarence Small, Dr. Hira Nair, Dr. Curtis V. Smith, Marquis Harris and Shai Perry.

For more information on the ethnic festival, visit www.freewebs.com/wycoethnicfestival/.

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