September 5, 2014 –During Labor Day weekend, Middle Georgia sampled savory food and enjoyed live cultural performances from around the world at Fort Valley State University’s inaugural International Cultural Festival and Soccer Exhibition.
“I consider this year’s International Cultural Festival and Soccer Exhibition a great success,” said Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, president of Fort Valley State University. “People who came out to the festival not only enjoyed delicious food from a variety of cultures, but learned of the wonderful academic programs that our campus has to offer. I look forward to this festival becoming a signature destination event for both our university and Middle Georgia. Indeed, planning already has begun on the second festival.”
FVSU senior Dalia Grey said seeing her university hosting such an event made her proud because learning about other cultures is important.
“I was born and raised in Brooklyn, my parents are from the Republic of Panama and I lived in Panama for over seven years, so that’s how I learned Spanish and all of that,” Grey said, adding she hopes the festival helps attract more diversity for Fort Valley State.
According to one of the event organizers, Austin Thompson Jr., chief executive officer and principal consultant for Thompson Management Consulting, the purpose of the festival was to expose the Central Georgia community to different cultures and to the university.
“We wanted to showcase the beauty of the university and its’ potential to those who were attending of the festival,” Thompson said. “We also wanted to promote the global initiatives presented by President Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, and the potential of the university to those attending, to help boost enrollment.”
The morning kicked with a colorful, mini parade. After the official opening ceremony, festival goers watched three exciting soccer matches inside Wildcat Stadium.
In the heat of the afternoon, the party kicked off with the start of live concerts on campus. The audience enjoyed live music concerts that heated up the stage. Dancers enjoyed salsa and meringue music from Orquesta Macuba, a Caribbean steel drum performance of PanSonics. King Danskie gave international cultural festival goers an unforgettable performance of his Calypso and Soca hits.
“King Danskie performed and really electrified the audience,” Thompson said. “They received him well. He is a wonderful performer, and we look forward to having him and the other acts at next year’s festival.” Thompson says he wants to invite all performers back for next year’s festival.
The live concert wasn’t the only thing available during this family-oriented event. Vendors provided free health screenings (that included blood pressure tests), and food from Caribbean and South American cultures. The Kapit-Bisig Dance Group performed a Filipino style Pay Pay de Manila dance, that has Spanish influences. Additionally, there was a Kung Fu Demonstration (the Northern Style Praying Mantis martial arts demonstration with Single Broadsword) and a stilt walker.
“I just wanted to thank the university and Dr. Griffith for giving me the opportunity to work with them with the planning and coordination of this event. I felt that I was embraced fully by staff members that I worked with, and we worked really hard over the last few months to make it a successful festival, and I look forward to work with them during the next International Cultural Festival and Soccer Exhibition,” said Thompson.
Dr. Melody Carter, vice president for the Division of External Affairs, said she also is looking forward to future festivals.
“We achieved our objectives, which were to enhance global engagements by Dreaming and Doing to support our educational and economic enterprise, ensure that our event would be self-sustaining, and to have fun while doing it,” Carter said. “Community and campus members, sponsors and patrons ensured it’s success. We’re already looking forward to next Labor Day weekend.”
Thompson believes the festival will continue to grow in the future, as its popularity grows. Organizers will work this week to start working on next year’s festival.
“People came out and enjoyed the festival,” said Austin Thompson. “Mindful, this is our first year event, and we need a few more years to grow the event, so people within the area are familiar with it.”
Proceeds from this year’s festival went to FVSU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for student scholarships.
Christina D. Milton,writer/Social Media Specialist
Fort Valley State University
Office of Marketing and Communications