On Saturday, September 22, you and your family have an opportunity travel the world without a passport! The 9th Annual International Festival of North Alabama (iFest 9) is a free family event that features a variety of fun, educational, and interactive attractions both indoors and outdoors.
But what’s at the festival for kids? Here are the top 5 reasons to take your kids to this year’s iFest.
#5. Country Booths
Through the efforts of a myriad of volunteers, nations from around the world are invited to host a Country Booth to introduce and welcome visitors to their country. This year almost 40 countries will be on exhibition. Each year new countries join the festival with this year’s new countries being Switzerland, Cuba, Indonesia, and Israel.
Country representatives in traditional dress welcome visitors to the booths; setup with table displays highlighting information about their country. Every year certain countries are selected as Spotlight Countries, and this year, Panama and Russia will be highlighted. To see the entire list of countries featured at this year’s festival, visit iFest 9’s Facebook Event.
#4. International Cuisine and Open Air Market
Travel with your taste buds! Vendors at the festival will be serving up delicious cuisine from around the world. It is a chance to try one of the many food trucks or local restaurants all in one place! Among the Food Truck dining choices are such offerings as Neon Lilly—Café on Wheels (Eastern European), Curry-N-A-Hurry (Caribbean), Cajun Cravins, and more!
There is also the popular International Open Air Market featuring vendors displaying international and internationally inspired merchandise. A few vendors in this area will be North Alabama Korean School, a Panama “Handy Craft Sale,” and the Alabama Hispanic Association. There will also be Food Vendors in the Open Air Market with Middle Eastern food from House of Kebabs and Mexican cuisine from La Fondita de la Guanajuato. For dessert, treat the kids and yourself to frozen delights from Sno-Boss, Chillz on Wheelz, and Steel City Pops. Ample tables and chairs under cover are conveniently located in the performances tent, right next to the food trucks and vendors.
An outdoor performance tent will host a rotation of talented performers throughout the day. The festivities will kick off with a Parade of Nations. Later in the morning, there will be a performance of the popular Russian folk song, Kalinka, along with dancers in traditional costumes. Malia’s Hula Halau, a local hula school, will be making their first festival appearance with a traditional Hawaiian dance. El Punto, performers specializing in Panamanian folk dance will perform in the afternoon. Returning festival favorites include the Rocket City Latin Band and the Fitness Arts Center Irish Dancers. In addition to a number of vocal, instrumental, and dance performances, watch for the martial arts demonstrations in the morning and afternoon.
#2. Children’s Area
The festival will offer an extensive indoor Children’s Area that gives kids the opportunity to have hands-on time to re-create crafts from around the world and to be entertained with the likes of photo booths (complete with ethnic costumes) and games from many different countries. Children ages 12 and under will be given “passports” that were generously donated by the Tennessee Valley Scottish Society. The passports will be a handy guide for participants as they visit each country. Once each passport holder finishes their tour they will receive a reward for a job well done!
#1. Meet Your Community
iFest is a showcase of your diverse community. Its focus has always been on the children of North Alabama, offering them exposure to as many different cultures as possible and providing them with an engaging environment in which to ask questions. Come to the festival to meet your community and learn more about the diverse cultures that influence it. Encouraging these interactions can start conservations about our unique cultures and lead to appreciating and celebrating our differences. Join in on this exciting community festival and celebrate the mosaic that is North Alabama! And be sure to save the date for iFest’s 10th Anniversary on September 21, 2019!