Friday, October 5, 2007

Celebration of Cultures this weekend

The Celebration of Cultures will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Centennial Park in Nashville. In association with the Celebration, a Walk As One will take place at 9am Saturday (check-in at 8am near the park's plane and train), and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center will have an open house with free musical performances (Saturday only), including Serenatta and the MTSU Salsa Band. Free shuttles will run between Centennial Park and the Schermerhorn.

Latin influence will abound, including the following demonstrations highlighted by this article in the Tennessean, "Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art will have a project pertaining to the upcoming Latin American holiday El Dia de los Muertos ... American Roots Music Education will perform American traditional music such as ... Tejano, [and] ... Grow Nashville will demonstrate for children how to make salsa from organic vegetables."

Centennial Park returns to its original roots with this event. The original Centennial Exposition on the site included "villages" from around the world, including a Cuban Village with Spanish Sen Sen Dancing Girls (see photo here and description here).

The press release below highlights other Latin highlights of this year's Celebration of Cultures, like the San Rafael Band and "Villages" of Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru:
You don’t have to travel the world for exotic food, music, and art. It’s all right here in Nashville at the 11th annual Celebration of Cultures Festival on October 6th and 7th in Centennial Park.

Presented by Metro Parks and Scarritt-Bennett Center, this FREE event will showcase the diversity and highlight the multi-cultural fabric of Nashville. “This festival has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for Nashvillians to learn about the rich mix of cultures we have here,” says Jose Ochoa, Superintendent of Cultural Arts and celebration co-chair for Metro Parks. “It’s also simply a wonderful two days of incredible entertainment, art, and food for everyone to enjoy.”

The festival began over a decade ago by a group that works continually to bring cultures together in Nashville: Scarritt-Bennett. “It’s very important to understand and celebrate the diversity of Nashville‚ to learn about other cultures and to get to know other people’s traditions‚” says Cindy Politte‚ director of marketing for Scarritt-Bennett Center‚ which started the Celebration of Cultures in 1995. “It’s a true potpourri of everything that is Nashville.”

Times are Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. The event will feature over forty ethnic dance and musical performances on multiple stages. Entertainers like the San Rafael Band (Latin Jazz), African Drummers (Ghana), Chinese Culture Club (China), Cripple Creek Cloggers (USA), Gary Cady (Native American), Ketsana (Laos), Pega Kadivar (Azerbaijan), and much, much more.

Enter “The Villages” and be transported around the world! New this year, The Villages offers an authentic look at the customs and traditions of Burundi, Ethiopia, Laos, the Philippines, and the Latin American countries of Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru. As you walk through, you will hear traditional music in the background as the native language of each area is spoken, and you will see colorful clothing and decorations that are customary for each country.

Original art and imported hand-crafted items will be available for purchase in “The World Market”. A special exhibit called “Nashville’s Internationals” will also be on display at the Centennial Art Center October 5-26, and will be featuring fifteen artists from around the world that now call Nashville home. Plus, a children’s area will include free interactive music and dance programs, storytelling, nature activities, and arts projects.

Celebration of Cultures provides an opportunity for the community to gather, honor, and explore the diversities and ethnicities that make Nashville so unique and culturally enriched.

Parking is free in Centennial Park and in the HCA parking lots off Park Plaza behind the park. Shuttles will run throughout the event to transport people to and from parking in Centennial and at HCA. Plus, Saturday, there will be free shuttles between Centennial Park and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Photo by Beth Kindig, courtesy of Celebration of Cultures.

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