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The International Folk Festival is an annual celebration hosted by the Arts Council of Fayetteville that celebrates the beautiful diversity in the community. The festival features food, music, dance and many other traditional celebrations of culture. It is a fantastic way to learn about both traditions around the world and your neighbors that keep these customs alive. 

The International Folk Festival starts on Friday, Sept. 25, with music and a presentation by North Carolina artists with Latino and Hispanic roots in front of the Arts Council, which is located at 301 Hay St. The festival focuses on education and appreciation. It provides a platform for the many different cultures represented in Fayetteville to share their beautiful traditions.  

Saturday, Sept. 26, the event begins at 10:30 a.m. with the Parade of Nations. The parade takes place on Hay St. 

“We expect the entire parade to be live-streamed by WRAL. Last year we had people, family members, all over the world watching the parade,” Mary Kinney, marketing director for the Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County said. 

The streets will be flooded with bright traditional dress and lively music. Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th, Festival Park opens at noon and closes at 6 p.m. Visitors can look forward to food, crafts, music and dance from all over the globe. There are also special presentations for children. The parade, all presentations and entrance to the festival are free to the public.

This year the International Folk Festival has a strong focus on technology. In addition to the returning WRAL Global Scavenger Hunt there is an entirely new area. 

“We are introducing an area called the Global Tech Café. This is hosted by the Cumberland County School System English as a Second Language  program. The students, parents and staff from ESL will share tools and resources that they use. The tools may include iPads and periodically live video streams from around the world. They will also be demonstrating apps and websites that they use themselves,” Kinney explained. 

This focus on technology is embraced throughout the entire festival. 

“We will have selfie stations, which will represent places all around the world like Big Ben. It’ll be a lot of fun, people can take pictures of themselves as if they are in Africa. These are scattered around the park and we encourage people to take selfies and share them on social media,” Kinney said, “The world is connected with technology. It only makes sense that the Arts Council’s International Folk Festival be just as connected. We need to recognize the roll of technology culturally. “

In addition to all of the new exciting aspects of the festival, the beloved favorites are here to stay. There is music, dancing, vendors, artistic presentations and, of course, food. 

“Something that you can’t do every day of the week is have egg rolls and ox tail on the same plate. I love the blending of cultures. You can cheer for Belize one moment and then Indonesia the next. You can listen to African drumming and a few steps away is bilingual storytelling … it is amazing the sense of the range of cultures represented,” said Kinney. 

For more information, visit www.theartscouncil.com/iff.php or call 910-323-1776. 

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