Vendors, entertainers signing on for new event
Messengers of Hope members (from right) Dina Pierre-Louis, 18, Annie Jean-Charles, 19, and Ashley Clerger, 15, rehearse a Caribbean dance routine Aug. 9 at the Northland Performing Arts Center in preparation for the Northland International Community Festival, slated for Aug. 25 and 26. Buy This Photo
As the weekend of the Northland Community International Festival draws near, principal organizer Joyce Bourgault finds herself alternately encouraged, discouraged and just plain worried about how the inaugural event is going to turn out.
Intended to be an annual celebration of the growing diversity of the Northland area in particular and Columbus as a whole, the festival is scheduled for Saturdayand Sunday, Aug. 25-26, in and around the Northland Performing Arts Center, 4411 Tamarack Blvd.
Admission and parking are free.
Bourgault, chairwoman of the Northland Alliance, and others involved in planning the festival for months, have had some hopes realized, others dashed and others still pending, she said last week.
"We have gotten quite a few entertainers who are coming," she said. "We're really feeling very good about that."
At last count, she said, 15 to 20 groups, including one representing Bhutanese refugees from Nepal, had signed up.
"We're getting more of the craft vendors, too," she said. "We're pleased with the cooperation of the community. For something new, for them to jump in and help -- that's encouraging."
On the other hand, what Bourgault had hoped would be not only a signature of the opening-day parade but a lasting memory of the first International Festival is not to be: the permanent installation of flags in the plaza of the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services from perhaps as many as 70 countries represented by people who have settled in central Ohio.
Bourgault said not enough sponsors have stepped forward, many of them perhaps leery of the ongoing expense of maintaining a flag.
"I think it's due to the economy," Bourgault said.
Perhaps next year, she added.
And then there are the food vendors. Not that many have signed on, Bourgault said. Although she's been advised the operators of mobile food trucks and carts tend to decide at the last minute, it's left her a bit worried.
Primary funding for the festival comes from the Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant Program, delivered through the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Other sponsors include the Northland Alliance, the Northland Performing Arts Center, Northland Community Council, the North Side Health Advisory Committee, the Northland Area Business Association, Hadler Cos., Molina Healthcare, White Castle, La Michoacanna, Able Roofing, Swan Cleaners, Bob Daniels Buick, the Superior Group, state Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) and the Columbus African Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
There have been some complications along the way to organizing a first-time festival with a hoped-for draw of 10,000 people, Bourgault acknowledged. For example, because a sound system will be used for the musical entertainment, obtaining a city permit required getting 100 signatures from residents in nearby apartment buildings.
"Our community just jumped right in and got a couple of sets of people going out to the apartments," Bourgault said. "That gave us the chance to provide more information about the festival, as well."
Weather permitting, Swan Cleaners will provide hot-air balloon rides both days, at $15 for adults and $5 for children, she said.
Hours for the International Festival are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 25 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 26. Events will be held both inside Northland Performing Arts Center and in the parking lot of the Franklin County Jobs and Family Services building, about two blocks east of Karl Road and one block south of Morse Road.
Full information is available at .northlandfest.com.