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Riverdale hosts international festival this weekend

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In an effort to reach out to the ethnic communities of greater Riverdale, the city will host its first-ever World Fest this Saturday on the grounds of Riverdale City Hall.

From 10 a.m., to 10 p.m., Riverdale will celebrate its cultural diversity through food, music, arts, crafts, and cultural performances. The event is free to the public, according to city officials.

Lonnie Ballard, assistant city manager and director of community, cultural affairs and leisure services, said the festival is a result of meetings Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon held at the beginning of her term to hear the concerns of various ethnic groups in the community. He said it will be a "fun way" to strengthen the city's ties to its ethnic communities and educate the general community about the various cultures represented in Riverdale.

"She [Wynn-Dixon] had quite a few meetings with local ethnic organizations, such as the Korean and Caribbean communities," Ballard said. "They're a part of us ... whether it is recognized or not, they do comprise our community, so it is part of our responsibility to reach out to those groups. This is a networking opportunity for us to get the different cultures together. We are doing this in a very creative way that includes music, food, and education."

Ballard said Saturday's festival will include performances by a Latin dance ensemble, a Caribbean steel drum band, a mariachi band, traditional Vietnamese dancers, and local blues, gospel, and rhythm and blues bands. A variety of vendors will sell clothing, art, and handmade jewelry, while others will sell food typically found in St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana.

In addition, there will be several activities for children provided by the Arts Clayton ArtVan, clowns, and local storytellers.

Clayton Heritage and Caribbean, LLC, a local organization dedicated to promoting Caribbean culture, has partnered with Riverdale to organize the event. Carol Webster, the organization's manager, said the program will serve as a way to reach out to local entrepreneurs and build better partnerships within the community.

"We recognize the cultural diversity we have here and we really need to benefit from that," Webster said. "This will be the first opportunity to showcase the skills we have. It's important that we show those skills and show that we are capable of doing it in Clayton County. We can get to know what other businesses are out there, so we can have supportive relationships."

"We feel that there is strength in diversity," Ballard said. "We feel that the more inclusive we are, in terms of the way we operate, the stronger we will be."

For information about vendor or performing opportunities, call (770) 997-8989.