Northland News

Northland International Festival

New date, same inspiration for staging June 22 community event


It's back.

The Northland International Community Festival and Health Fair has a new name, a new coordinator, a new time and a new date, but the same purpose: "Celebrating the cultural diversity of Northland."

"It's an opportunity to learn more about the people who live in our neighborhood," said this year's festival chairwoman, Sandy LaFollette.

This time around, the celebration will be confined to a single day, Saturday, June 22. Last year's event covered an entire weekend Aug. 25-26, 2012, when Northland Alliance Chairwoman Joyce Bourgault established it.

The 2013 festival also will incorporate a health fair that had been sponsored by the North Side Health Advisory Committee, of which LaFollette is co-chairwoman.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. inside and on the grounds of the Northland Performing Arts Center, 4411 Tamarack Blvd. just south of Morse Road.

Admission and parking are free.

Planning for a second festival and fine-tuning began right after the first one concluded, LaFollette said last week. One of the bigger decisions was related to timing, she added.

"We didn't want to compete with another big event," she said.

By moving it from August to a single day in June, there should be fewer conflicts, and perhaps the weather won't be quite so hot. Brutally high temperatures last year may have kept attendance down, although Bourgault pronounced herself pleased in the wake of the first festival.

"For our first year, everything went smoothly and we had a good amount of vendors," she said at the time. "The heat kind of shied people away a little bit, but we survived the heat ... and we had no major problems of any kind, a lot of positive feedback."

The feedback also said it would be easier to put on a one-day event rather than spread it over two, according to LaFollette, who is also serving again this year as chairwoman of the Northland Community Council's Independence Day Parade.

"We thought it would be easier for volunteers, easier for people to identify with," she said. "Lots of times, people have things to do on Sunday, so we extended the hours and kept it to a single day."

"I'm hoping with it being a second year we're going to get more people," Northland Performing Arts Center General Manager Brian Kerr said. "We've consolidated it from two days to one. We might have been overreaching a bit last year."

Kerr noted that all the entertainment will perform on the main stage inside the center, so heat or rain are of no concern.

"Really, it was so hot last year, in the 90s," LaFollette said. "This gives us a better sound system and a better performing stage."

A history of the Northland area will once again be displayed inside the Performing Arts Center, and all health screenings will take place in the building to provide some privacy, she added.

The health fair will bring a variety of free screenings to the festival, in addition to music, art and food.

Contributing sponsors this year include United Way of Central Ohio, Molina Healthcare of Ohio, North Side Health Advisory Committee and Northland Performing Arts Center.