uac092210001.gif If the United States is a melting pot, than Fayetteville is melting bowl. The city is known for its culture diversity and has celebrated it each fall for the past 31 years with the annual International Folk Festival. This year is no exception as the Arts Council of Fayetteville- Cumberland County proudly invites you to dance in the streets during the 32nd Annual International Folk Festival.

The fun begins on Friday, Sept. 24 at the September 4th Friday from 7-9 p.m. in downtown Fayetteville.

At the Arts Council, 301 Hay St., Cultural Expressions, an invitational art show, will be on display. The exhibit features unique impressions of culture through art, artifacts, handmade crafts, textiles, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and mixed media. Morris Cardenas and the Borderland Trio will be on hand to entertain you as you view the exhibit, and as always, refreshments with an international flair will be available.

Once you’ve visited the Arts Council building be sure to stroll the streets and watch artisans at their craft on Maxwell Street from 6-10 p.m. during Arts Alive.

Outside on Maxwell Street, the Panamanian dance group Conjunto Típico Raíces Istmeñas will give visitors to Arts Alive a preview of their performance scheduled for later in the weekend at Festival Park.

Arts Alive will also feature these artists selling and demonstrating their work: Aurora Crowell (jewelry), Shannon Davis (glasswork), Kevin Gregory (painting), Pamela Kelly (loom weaving), Sylecia Johnston (mixed media/paintings), Feral Art Collective (stenciling and painting), Deborah Crandall (jewelry), Kelly Green (pen-andink and clay).

Be sure to catch free rides around downtown on the Cotton Exchange Express. Be sure and get a good night’s rest before you venture back out on Saturday, Sept. 25, when the fun starts on Hay Street and then transitions to Festival Park.

One of the highlights of the International Festival has always been the Parade of Nations. Seen by many as the real “kick-off” of the event, the parade begins at 11 a.m. on Hay Street. Each year cultural groups from around the world vie to create the best display as they parade through downtown, bringing the world to our backyard.

You can’t help but want to join them as they dance in the streets. Listen to the pounding of the drums, the rhythm of Latin beats, the sounds of the orient and much more. If you’ve never taken the time to watch the parade, you definitely want to put it on your calendar this year.

It is a colorful site that is a delight to all of your senses. Once the parade winds its way down Hay Street, you are going to want to follow them on to Festival Park where the fun continues.

The festival gets into full gear at noon within the confines of Festival Park. While there, you can enjoy authentic cuisine at the International Café, unique arts and crafts, an expanded children’s area and more! Live entertainment in five performance areas, including a Native American Cultural Showcase, starts at 1 p.m.

A favorite of many festival goers if the International Cafe, which features food from all over the world. Whether you are looking for German, Italian, Thai or Caribbean food, you can find it all in the cafe.

The fun begins again in Festival Park on Sunday, Sept. 26 from noon-6 p.m., with live entertainment, authentic cuisine at the International Café, unique arts and crafts, children’s area and more!

Admission to the festival is free; however, if you want to eat or purchase anything from vendors you’ll need to bring your wallet. For more information, visit www.theartscouncil.com.

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