Way back around 1980, a little annual event started up to celebrate the rich diversity found in Kansas City. We are sure that the organizers of this festival were hopeful that it would continue, but wonder if they could have imagined that it would achieve its current level of success. Here we are 39 years later, and the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival is still going strong. Held in the middle of August, this multicultural celebration embraces the reality that Kansas City is “The Melting Pot of the Midwest”.
Over 50 Countries
We dropped in to the festival on a Saturday evening to check out the fun. The participation for this event has grown to include over 50 different countries, which all have a presence in our metropolitan region. Walking the grounds at Swope Park, we noticed these impromptu signs that identified some countries of origin for the many that had gathered. It helped to remind us that the world is getting smaller, as cultural boundaries begin to fade.
For those who have never attended this event, you should know that there is food galore. The grounds are set up in a huge oval with booths ringing it. As we wandered, the whole world of food was at our service. It was quickly apparent which were the popular places, by the lines that formed to place orders. Of course, as we observed, this would ebb and flow over time. Being a warm weather event, the shaved ice at the Hawaii booth kept their line long for most of the evening.
Now most of you are familiar enough with our writings to believe this article will be about the wondrous mounds of food we found at the KC Ethnic Festival. Psych! We aren’t going that direction at all. Now don’t get us wrong, there are tons of delicious treats found within the booths at the festival. We made note of the various courses that a person could enjoy, as they dined their way around the world. It is just that this article is designed to show what else there is to see at this annual event.
A World Of Color
With each country having its own booth space, it is easy to distinguish quickly where items originate. Some booths sell only food and drinks. Others sell a combination of edibles and other items available for purchase. Apparel seemed to be a good choice for many, as the bright colors drew the attention of passersby.
We even found some larger items available, which are just as brightly decorated as much of the clothing. One booth had a wide assortment of sculptures and musical instruments made with wood. Again the colorful motifs were certainly eye-catching. I certainly couldn’t pass up a chance to get a few shots of these pieces.
It is usually a given that there will be some kind of entertainment at this type of event. The KC Ethnic Festival is two and a half days of entertainment options. Our visit only lasted a couple of hours, but during that time we had the pleasure of seeing a variety of shows. A Middle eastern dance session entranced the crowd with her fluid movements, as the fading sunlight glistened off of her silky dress. The rhythmic cadence from her drummer created a hypnotic effect, as she swayed to the beat.
The sun dropped closer to the horizon, as the entertainment continued to flow. Crowds grew at the pavilion and next up were a group of dancers prepared to wow those that had assembled. On the edges, people would crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the performances. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. The aromas of the various foods being sold filled the air and created an intoxicating atmosphere. Still, we maintained our focus on the entertainment.
During our visit to the Kansas City Ethnic Festival, we had a chance to meet up with our daughter. She was part of a contingent from Park University, who were exploring the festival grounds. We watched a couple of performances, before we went off in search of some refreshments. Taking a few moments rest on some hay bales gave us time to review the schedule. Our daughter noticed a troop of performers, that she was familiar with, getting ready to start. She informed me that I would not want to miss it, so we hurried back over to the main stage. The crowd had packed in, so I actually had to video from a distance with the camera above my head. Afterwards, Crystal informed me that others had seen what I was doing and rushed over to watch the performance in my camera viewfinder screen.
After this show, we noticed the daylight was quickly fading. This was a sign for us to make our way to our next destination. We said our goodbyes to our daughter and made our way to the front gate. Outside was a long column of flags, which made a great background for a selfie. We had missed this opportunity at our arrival, so we made sure to take time before heading to our car. The 50 countries represented at the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival had supplied us with plenty of entertainment and an enjoyable evening. We will certainly have to mark our calendars for next August, when they will be celebrating their 40th season. Will we see you there?