Parkersburg Multicultural Festival This Weekend

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The 17th annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival (MOVMCF) returns to Parkersburg's City Park this weekend.

Similar to years past, the festival will host a huge number of multicultural music and dance performances on the main stage.

However, this year’s fest will feature a number of new events, including Irish Opening Night, an international car show and interactive educational opportunities.

The weekend also includes cultural workshops, door prizes and a huge variety of ethnic foods. As always, admission is free.

WOUB's Elliot Nicolson spoke with Beverly Walker, director of marketing for the MOVMCF, about the festival's mission, new additions to the schedule and the importance of keeping the festival free of charge.

EN: Beverly, what's the aim of the annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival?

BW: The goal of the festival has always been to develop a better understanding amongst the community at large of the variances among different cultures. The philosophy was that, the more any of us understand the way other people live, they might have a different style of foods, holidays, etc., then we would be more tolerant and accepting of other cultures.

EN: This year’s festival is kicking off Friday with Irish Opening Night. Is this a new addition?

BW: The Irish theme for Friday night is new in that, while the festival always opened on Friday evening, it did not have a specific theme. This year we are emphasizing the Irish culture on Friday night with the Irish Celtic bands, Irish decorations and so on.

EN: What else is new to the festival? I was reading about The International Boulevard on your website, movmcf.org; what are the details on that?

BW: The International Boulevard is a way to more broadly celebrate certain heritages here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The International Boulevard is a section of City Park that is being set up to look like a foreign street. It has an entrance at either end that leads to a foreign-looking street with booths on each side representing different nations, which are hosted by various individuals right here in the community. [The booths] will be displaying artifacts, maps, posters, photography, fashion, music, etc.

Another new addition is the Arts in Motion Tent. In the past, it was just called The Story Telling Tent, and it primarily featured storytellers: Indian storytellers, or storytellers of Scottish tales, etc. This year, we’ve changed the name of that tent to the Arts in Motion Tent, or AIM Tent, because we're not just doing storytelling but also demonstrations of a number of different art activities. For instance, we have some spinners and weavers, and a drum making workshop. The schedule on the website has all of these performers listed.

EN: I’m looking forward to the food…

BW: Oh yes, all the ethnic tastes are just a joy that we don’t get normally. There are always a lot of ethnic foods that add some flavor that we don’t regularly get to experience unless we leave town, so it’s nice to bring all those great foods to City Park. 

EN: Admission to the festival is free. Is it important to you and the other directors to keep it free of charge?

BW: Absolutely. It doesn’t take much time to look through listings of festivals or concerts in our region to realize that the tickets are sometimes up to 50 dollars a person, so we do like to emphasize that this is free admission. Which means that a person can bring grandparents and children, come multiple times to the festival and it's all free. We hope that when people come, they'll help support us by perhaps purchasing a t-shirt or supporting the arts vendors and food vendors. We like to emphasize free admission, but we do hope that people leave with a few souvenirs.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival’s website at www.movmcf.org. Or, check out the MOVMCF Facebook page for updates, information and photos.