By Melody Vallieu
Troy will again this year celebrate its cultural diversity with an annual one-day festival.
The 21st annual Festival of Nations is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. Aug. 16 on the Great Miami River levee.
The event is under the umbrella of the Mayors International Council in Troy and has changed quite a bit over the years, according to Becky Daffner, publicity chair for the Festival of Nations.
“It has changed quite a bit. It was more or less an art show in conjunction with the Troy Mayor’s Concert and it just evolved from there into the Festival of Nations event with the help of Carol Kerber and Ruth Jenkins,” Daffner said.
The event is now held annually the day before the Troy Mayor’s Concert, which this year is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 17 on Prouty Plaza in downtown Troy. The concert will feature the Dayton Philharmonic Concert Band.
The Festival of Nations was held downtown for many years, however, was moved to the levee during the Adams Street Bridge reconstruction and people have taken to the location, Daffner said.
“People are enjoying the levee location, so we have left it there,” said Daffner, who said 500-600 people attend annually.
Argentina will be the featured country at this year’s festival, and 15-20 other nations and cultures will be represented from around the world through interactive booths/displays, food, dance, music, story-telling, souvenirs and arts and crafts.
“I have been participating for the last few years in the Troy Festival of Nations representing Argentina. It is a fun activity that I look forward to every year for the chance to experience different foods, music, dances and costumes from each participating country,” said Yasminka Landaburu, festival participant. “This year the featured country will be my own, Argentina; home of the Tango dance, producer of fine wines, great beef and the cradle of several Nobel prizes, famous writers, Jorge Luis Borges, and Messi, our national soccer hero.”
For this Festival of the Nations, as the featured country, Landaburu said representatives plan to have different activities introducing and celebrating Argentina culture. Patricia Paz from Tangos del Barrio will introduce the Tango dance and songs, she said. She said they will have a demonstration of a popular Argentine drink “mate.” This is a drink prepared with the “Yerba Mate” dry leaves and sipped through a “bombilla” (straw). “Asado” (beef) and “choripanes” (Argentine sausage), on the grill, will be prepared by Mariano Rios, the owner of La Pampa Grill.
“This is a very fun, family-oriented festival that will allow you to enjoy diverse cultures from around the world in Troy,” Landaburu said.
All ages will enjoy learning about various countries that are represented by local residents who want to share their heritage. Colorful tents and booths will create a festive look for the festival area, she said. Also, there will be multi-cultural entertainment presented on the open-air stage during the entire festival featuring dances, musicians, story-tellers and others, according to Daffner.
For children, there are games, face-painting and other activities.
Daffner encourages the public to come out to the festival and celebrate Troy’s melting pot of diversity. A Parade of Nations will be offered at 4 p.m., however Daffner said plans are still in the works.
“We need to appreciate our cultural diversity here in Troy. We have a lot of people here from a lot of different countries and I think it is important to stay in touch with them and make them feel welcome,” she said.
Admission to the festival is free.
For more information, visit www.troyfestivalofnations.com.
Melody Vallieu can be reached at (937) 552-2131 or follow her on Twitter at @TroyDailyNews