Dreaming of international travel, but low on funds? No worries. You can experience other cultures without leaving the Fox Valley this Saturday, Sept. 1, when the city of Elgin holds iFest, its first international festival.
"The genesis for our festival was the vision of Mayor Dave Kaptain," said Danise Habun, chairwoman of the Elgin Human Relations Commission and festival planning committee. "He looked at the number of special events held with sponsorship by the city of Elgin. (His idea was) instead of a bunch of little festivals, let's see what would happen if everyone joined together for one big event."
The festivities will begins at 11 a.m. with an international parade stepping off at Chicago and Grove avenues, turning south on Spring Street and continuing south on Grove Avenue to Festival Park, 130 S. Grove Ave.
Admission is free, and visitors are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Coolers, outside food and beverages are prohibited, but nobody need go hungry, as there will be plenty of food and drink for purchase.
"There will be a beer garden sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Coalition," Habun said. "And we have nine food vendors."
Habun said vendors will be selling American food (hot dogs and hamburgers) along with soul food and offerings from Thailand, China, Laos, Puerto Rico, South America and Mexico.
In the Kidz Zone, children can learn about the cultures of Cambodia, Japan, Puerto Rico, Denmark, Laos, Scotland, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, Greece, Native America, South Africa, India, Nigeria, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Vietnam, Israel, Pakistan, Italy and Poland while playing games and having fun. Family entertainment will include Princesses from Around the World at 2 p.m., AKF Martial Arts Dragon Kyukido at 2:45 p.m., Zumba dance with Kim at 3:30 p.m., and Mystic Drumz at 4 p.m.
"The Kidz Zone is the bookend to a lot of summer activities that encourage reading and learning about different cultures," said Rose Reinert, executive director of the local Boys and Girls Club.
There will also be a World Bazaar with a variety of exhibitors, and entertainment on three stages. Performers include: Ray Lozano, Arpa y Bandolas Group, Bartlett International Chorus, A-Town Bachateros, Ballet Folklórico Huehuecoyotl, a Gospel Choir, Wat Lao Buddharam of Northern Illinois, Mayer School of Irish Dance, Germanian hip-hop artist Coach, Fatally Unique, Del Sol, Eastern Groove Studio belly dance, Academia de Baile Angelitos, Pops Plus, Prince Alonzo, Projecto 7 and Mood Makers.
Habun said iFest has come a long way since people started working on it more than six months ago.
"Our planning committee represents every layer of community that is Elgin," Habun said. "We are as diverse as the community is and that truly is the most exciting part of this."
For details, visit elginifest.com.
Daily Herald staff writer Tara Garcia Mathewson contributed to this report.