September is festival month in Red Deer, including a Multicultural Celebration of the Arts on Sept. 23 and 24 in and around Festival Hall.
The offerings will be more diverse, inclusive and plentiful than in past years, showing how central Alberta’s arts and culture scene has grown and become enriched by newcomers from across the globe, said organizer Jan Underwood, of the Care for Newcomers non-profit.
The festival’s arts market will include henna tattoos and Chinese calligraphy as well as more traditional painting and ceramics displays, literary and performance art.
Free on-stage entertainment will range from Country Pride Dancers to Metis jiggers and the Red Deer Aboriginal Dance Troupe, as well as Armenian, Philippine and African dancers. These dance performances will run all day Saturday, Sept. 24, along with musicians and singers.
Underwood said the dancers will demonstrate their moves on the evening of Sept. 23 for anyone who wants to learn, and there will be a free family dance on the Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.
Food trucks parked beside Festival Hall on opening night Friday will be switched out with ethnic food vendors serving up delicacies from different countries on the Saturday.
Underwood said the decision to widen this year’s festival is “partly to raise awareness of the diversity in Red Deer, so people know it’s there, and partly to celebrate it.”
The two-day event, staged in partnership with Country Pride Dancers with some provincial funding, will show off the “amazing skills” that newcomers are bringing to this area, she added.
This includes such intriguing activities as story-carpet weaving from Afghanistan.
There will also be vendors selling traditional attire, like the ribbon skirts along with jewelry and native art.
“We will have a real variety of vendors,” said Underwood, including at least four food-related ones, selling baklava and other ethnic treats.
Many children’s and family activities will also be offered, including glitter and face painting and crafts, such as making Chinese bookmarks.
The festival runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 23 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 24 at Festival Hall, next to Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.
For more information, please visit the Care for Newcomers Facebook page.