Friday, October 10, 2003

Clermont explores world cultures

Festival features music, ethnic dancing, evening concert

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

BATAVIA - Diverse people, from American Indians to natives of India, will be celebrated at the first Culturefest for Clermont County residents Saturday.

"It's a good chance (for residents) to learn about their neighbors and it's a good chance to teach their neighbors about themselves," said Leslie Massey, a member of the planning committee.

What: Culturefest
Where: University of Cincinnati Clermont College campus, Batavia
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free, parking provided on the UC Clermont Batavia campus
Information: Go to or call 753-9222.
The event, presented by the LEAD Clermont Class of 2003 in conjunction with Clermont 20/20, will showcase arts, entertainment, and food. As many as 11 cultures will be represented.

The free festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the University of Cincinnati's Clermont College campus in Batavia.

Children can make crafts such as Mexican hats. There will be face painting, a balloonist, and storytelling by the Dream Weavers, who will share Native American tales. Madcap Puppets will present Story Quest - a giant puppet production of multicultural storytelling.

Cultural performances will run throughout the day and include Greek dancing, Jewish folk songs, a Japanese ladies chorus, Celtic music, and an African-American steel drum band.

The Cultural Center of India, the Hispanic group "Que Lindo es Panama," and members of the Donauschwaben Society will perform in native dress.

Culturefest is designed to promote cultural awareness in a changing community.

"We felt like it was a good time, past time in some ways, to try to pull together those elements and recognize those differences," Massey said.

In the last several years, Clermont County has become more diverse - 97 percent of residents registered as white in the 2000 U.S. Census, a statistic Cindy Jenkins, executive director of Clermont 20/20, a non-profit citizens leadership organization, said is changing.

"We feel the need to recognize, in a positive way, these (different) communities as being part of our greater community and what they have that we can gain," Jenkins said.

Berta Velilla, who was born and raised in Spain, served on the Culturefest planning committee. She said with the change in demographics, the timing was right for an event like this.

In the West Clermont school system alone, there are students from 24 countries who speak 21 languages.

Traditional foods from Italy, Hungary, Mexico, and India will be on sale as well as American food.

The Clermont Philharmonic Orchestra will perform music from around the world at 7 p.m.

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