iFest 8 features 28 countries, music, games and food

ifest 2017

There will be 28 countries represented at this year's iFest 8.

Somi Park

The sophistication of classical music will combine with the fiery vitality of Russian folk musical expression when the guitar and dance group Zingaresca performs at the free International Festival of North Alabama (iFest 8), being hosted for the eighth year by The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University Fitness Center on the UAH Campus.

Also performing at the main tent will be Black Market Haggis, a local group that plays traditional Irish music, and the UAH Jazz Combo. There are free children's activities including crafts and art. Local food trucks and vendors will be selling food to attendees and open-air market vendors will have souvenirs for sale.

An annual celebration of the diversity and vibrancy of the Tennessee Valley region, iFest 8 features local cultural organizations, artisans and performances, as well as performances from international artists. Fun, free games that are educational and interactive include Paper Dragons (China); Cross-Stitched Mărțișor Dolls (Moldova); Kangaroo Paper Craft (Australia); Floor Folk Art from India; and more.

iFest 8 is a fun learning experience for the whole family, with good entertainment and lots of fun activities for people of all ages, says Dr. Belinda Ong, iFest 8 chair and director of research, information and user services at UAH’s M. Louis Salmon Library.

"Bring the entire family for a passport-free trip around the globe and join your friends and neighbors in celebrating the cultural diversity creating the mosaic that is North Alabama!" she says. "iFest 8 is a celebration of how culturally diverse Huntsville and the surrounding areas truly are. We have a lot of families and students from abroad here who work and learn and add a lot to our community. This is great way to see this fact at a glance."

Displays, activities, music, dance and performances offer something for everyone, says Dr. Ong.

"iFest 8 also helps broaden awareness of diverse cultures from around the world while promoting a better understanding of the social, traditional and historical aspects of the many countries in the world," she says.

There will be 28 countries represented at this year's iFest 8, which is sponsored by the International Society of Huntsville and the University of Alabama in Huntsville's Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the University Fitness Center, and the M. Louis Salmon Library. Kyrgyzstan and Singapore will be represented for the first time. Nigeria is the spotlight country. Each country will have a booth including arts, crafts and information about the country in question. Visitors can stop by and ask questions.

"We are expecting about 4,000 people to our festival this year," Dr. Ong says. "Even if you have attended a previous festival, each year there are new countries and performances, new things to try, new surprises to find. People come from all over to attend our unique celebration of all the people who have made this amazing region their home. International Festival is the only platform in Huntsville that allows the international community who chose Huntsville as their home an opportunity to showcase their cultural heritage in a fun environment."

For more information visit: www.internationalsocietyofhuntsville.org. Volunteers make iFest 8 possible. If you are interested, contact Ong at ongb@uah.edu or 256-824-6432.


Belinda Ong

Jim Steele