A Melting Pot


Festival celebrates city’s diversity

Dave Fornell | Troy Daily News Argentine native Mariano Rios cooks up asado, the Argentine barbecue, as he grills choripan, a sandwich that combines chorizo sausage and grilled onions on crispy homemade bread with chimichurri sauce at the 2014 Festival of Nations on the Great Miami River levee in Troy. Argentina was the featured country at the festival that celebrates cultural diversity with demonstrations, food and arts and crafts.


David Fong | Troy Daily News A pair of dancers representing the country of South Africa perform during a recent Festival of Nations in Troy.


Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Consul-General of Japan Kuninori Matsuda shakes hands with Troy Mayor Mike Beamish during a recent Festival of Nations opening ceremony.


Dave Fornell | Troy Daily News Hasuna Yokoyama, 4, and and Yokiko Iwasake, carry a Japanese banner in the parade opening the 2014 Festival of Nations celebration in Troy. More than 15 nations were represented with cultural demonstrations, food and arts and crafts at the event, which was held on the Great Miami Levee.


History of the Festival of Nations

The Festival of Nations was originally put together by a group of local residents headed by Ruth Jenkins, wife of then-Mayor Peter Jenkins, under the auspices of the Mayor’s International Council.

Jenkins has been the backbone of the festival since its inception, said festival committee member Tom Funderburg.

“She has been the leader of this group for 22 years and the glue that has held this together,” Funderburg said. “Brock Heath has done a great job for the last two years as well.”

That initiative continues under current Mayor Michael Beamish and the Festival of Nations Committee. The purpose is to recognize and celebrate the cultural diversity of Troy and surrounding area and to promote meaningful international relationships. The festival has always been funded by donations including support from the Troy Foundation, city of Troy, and Troy Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This is under the umbrella of the Mayor’s International Council with the mission of promoting international understanding and awareness,” Funderburg said.

The colorful site makes the event even more pleasing to festival-goers, Funderburg said.

“Mayor Mike Beamish always views the Festival of Nations, the venue on the levee, as an international village,” Funderburg said.

By Melody Vallieu

[email protected]

TROY — The city of Troy is a melting pot of diversity.

For 22 years, the Festival of Nations has celebrated just that.

The 2015 Festival of Nations is free and open to the public and will be offered from 2-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, on the Great Miami River levee in Troy.

The festival will include a Parade of Nations at 4 p.m., according to festival committee member Tom Funderburg, followed by a children’s parade at 5 p.m., sponsored by the Troy Noon Optimist.

“The children’s parade is a parade of children in costume or with a flag or noisemaker and they parade the festival grounds,” Funderburg said. “It’s a wonderful part of the festival.”

Residents of Troy, Miami County and beyond will be able to experience and celebrate 15-20 nations and cultures from around the world through interactive booths/displays, food, dance, music, story-telling and arts and crafts.

The featured country is China, and others include Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, India, Honduras, France, Germany, Philippines, Panama, Peru, Japan, Scotland and Ukraine and more.

“China had never been featured at the festival so we wanted to promote them,” Funderburg said. “We look forward to the Chinese delegation and we are looking forward to learning about the culture and the country.”

For children, there are games, face-painting and other activities.

All ages can enjoy learning about various countries, which are represented by local residents who want to share their heritage. Colorful tents and booths will create a festive look for the festival area.

There also will be multi-cultural entertainment presented on the open-air stage during the entire festival featuring dancers, musicians, story-tellers and others.

“Eight of the countries will be providing entertainment from dance to song to stories to customs,” he said.

Funderburg said besides local residents providing entertainment, the event will include Madam Gi Gi’s Outrageous French Can Can dancers, a steel drum group called Steel Expressions, belly dancing by Cairo Mystique and a Peruvian dance ensemble.

“It’s a large group. They had the crowd on their feet last year,” Funderburg said of the Peruvian dance ensemble.

Food from many different countries is always a highlight of the event each year. Individual delegations prepare authentic, traditional food items representative of their countries. Also, there is a food court where local restaurants share favorite ethnic food dishes.

“It’s probably one of the only places you take try some of these recipes because they are home recipes,” Funderburg said of some of the eclectic food choices that will be available.

Funderburg, Jerry Mullins, Michael Ham and Brock and Leyla Heath make up this year’s committee, he said.

Children’s International Summer Village, or CISV, will have a booth and the Troy Historical Society will offer a historical lesson as well, Funderburg said. Troy Community Radio will once again offer a live remote.

“For a town our size to have this much diversity and celebrate it, it’s unique,” Funderburg said.

Dave Fornell | Troy Daily News Argentine native Mariano Rios cooks up asado, the Argentine barbecue, as he grills choripan, a sandwich that combines chorizo sausage and grilled onions on crispy homemade bread with chimichurri sauce at the 2014 Festival of Nations on the Great Miami River levee in Troy. Argentina was the featured country at the festival that celebrates cultural diversity with demonstrations, food and arts and crafts.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_TDN-Festival-1.jpgDave Fornell | Troy Daily News Argentine native Mariano Rios cooks up asado, the Argentine barbecue, as he grills choripan, a sandwich that combines chorizo sausage and grilled onions on crispy homemade bread with chimichurri sauce at the 2014 Festival of Nations on the Great Miami River levee in Troy. Argentina was the featured country at the festival that celebrates cultural diversity with demonstrations, food and arts and crafts.

David Fong | Troy Daily News A pair of dancers representing the country of South Africa perform during a recent Festival of Nations in Troy.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Africa.jpgDavid Fong | Troy Daily News A pair of dancers representing the country of South Africa perform during a recent Festival of Nations in Troy.

Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Consul-General of Japan Kuninori Matsuda shakes hands with Troy Mayor Mike Beamish during a recent Festival of Nations opening ceremony.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_120818aw_Fest_O_Nations2.jpgAnthony Weber | Troy Daily News Consul-General of Japan Kuninori Matsuda shakes hands with Troy Mayor Mike Beamish during a recent Festival of Nations opening ceremony.

Dave Fornell | Troy Daily News Hasuna Yokoyama, 4, and and Yokiko Iwasake, carry a Japanese banner in the parade opening the 2014 Festival of Nations celebration in Troy. More than 15 nations were represented with cultural demonstrations, food and arts and crafts at the event, which was held on the Great Miami Levee.
http://tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_TDN-Festival-2.jpgDave Fornell | Troy Daily News Hasuna Yokoyama, 4, and and Yokiko Iwasake, carry a Japanese banner in the parade opening the 2014 Festival of Nations celebration in Troy. More than 15 nations were represented with cultural demonstrations, food and arts and crafts at the event, which was held on the Great Miami Levee.
Festival celebrates city’s diversity

History of the Festival of Nations

The Festival of Nations was originally put together by a group of local residents headed by Ruth Jenkins, wife of then-Mayor Peter Jenkins, under the auspices of the Mayor’s International Council.

Jenkins has been the backbone of the festival since its inception, said festival committee member Tom Funderburg.

“She has been the leader of this group for 22 years and the glue that has held this together,” Funderburg said. “Brock Heath has done a great job for the last two years as well.”

That initiative continues under current Mayor Michael Beamish and the Festival of Nations Committee. The purpose is to recognize and celebrate the cultural diversity of Troy and surrounding area and to promote meaningful international relationships. The festival has always been funded by donations including support from the Troy Foundation, city of Troy, and Troy Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This is under the umbrella of the Mayor’s International Council with the mission of promoting international understanding and awareness,” Funderburg said.

The colorful site makes the event even more pleasing to festival-goers, Funderburg said.

“Mayor Mike Beamish always views the Festival of Nations, the venue on the levee, as an international village,” Funderburg said.

Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131, [email protected] or on Twitter at @TroyDailyNews.

Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131, [email protected] or on Twitter at @TroyDailyNews.

comments powered by Disqus