Elgin will host international celebrations May 4-5
The weekend of May 4 and 5 in Elgin promises to be vibrant and fun-filled with a widespread celebration of culture, art, music, dance and food from around the world.
• The Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., will start the weekend with its Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration featuring food, crafts, music and dance 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4. This year's festival highlights "healthy living for mind, body, and community." Keynote speaker Sufia Azmet, executive director of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America, will give a talk titled "Harnessing the Power of Diversity to Grow Communities."
• This year's iFest, or international festival, has a "different energy, different concept and different vision," said Alan Thavisouk, who led a committee's efforts to organize the city's seventh annual event. It will take place from 1:30 to 6 p.m. May 4 at the Edward Schock Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way, and nearby locations.
"The scope is really focusing on building the unity within our community, and showcasing the ethnic and diverse talent and food of our community -- and celebrating that," Thavisouk said.
Mostly local vendors will participate in the "Taste of Elgin" ethnic food fair -- the first one for iFest -- on North Grove Avenue between Kimball Street and Symphony Way.
Inside the Schock Centre, there will be arts and exhibits from across the world and an "ethnic world market" selling arts and crafts. A photo booth will allow families to take photos with famous international sites as a backdrop.
There will be children's activities in the center's parking lot, and a petting zoo and camel rides on the grassy area north of the building.
There will be live entertainment in the city parking lot west of North Grove Avenue, south of Kimball Street. Performances will include: Bollywood, Irish, Lao and Ukrainian dance; soul, Motown and reggae music; Mexican mariachi and an Elvis Presley impersonator.
• Cinco de Mayo celebrations will be from 1 to 5 p.m. May 5 with musical acts, local vendors, artists and food trucks along Spring Street and DuPage Court. The event is organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory against the French in the Battle of Puebla of 1862. The opening ceremony will feature the Mexican national anthem and a brief historical presentation by former federal Judge Manuel Barbosa of Elgin.
There will be piñata making, Cinco De Mayo trivia, traditional "grito" (or "yell" in Spanish) contests and even a jalapeño-eating contest hosted by Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Elgin. Participating groups include Elgin Hispanic Network and Centro De Información.
Entertainment will include 4 Strings Attached Academy, Alegria Mexicana and Mariachi Joya Dorada de U-46.