City living can make it hard to get to know your neighbors —which is why, on Saturday, Sept. 28, the Statehouse Plaza will be home to the eighth annual Concord Multicultural Festival, an event that brings together all the cultures that call Concord home.
From 3 to 7 p.m., food, music, dance and art from around the world will be on display in an effort to help all of Concord’s residents connect with each other.
Jessica Fogg, the event chair, said Concord has grown in diversity in recent years, and this year’s festival will reflect that. She said the city is a location for the refugee resettlement program and has seen a recent increase in residents from Lebanon, Bhutan, Sudan and the Congo. These new Americans, she said, have added to the vibrancy of Concord’s culture.
“People coming here have so much to offer and live such fascinating and creative lives,” Fogg said. “When we can all learn from each other, it makes it so much more interesting. There is an intense diversity of it all, when you see how many cultures we have here.”
Fogg said that a common thread throughout nearly every culture is a love of the traditional street festival. Throughout its existence, she said, the Concord Multicultural Festival has aimed to maintain that environment while serving as an educational tool.
“Concord as a whole is trying to become more vibrant, so this is great for our community,” she said. “By having all of these performances, it becomes an educational experience by proxy. You’re having fun but experiencing something new.”
Highlights of this year’s performances are Ankara Rose and her Celtic belly fusion dance, Bhutanese dancers and singers, Burundi drummers, the West African music of the Landaya Ensemble and a performance of the Wah Lum Chinese Lion Dance.
Accompanying the variety of performances and food will be exhibitors from cultural organizations. Honore Murenzi, the director of the Concord-based New American Africans, said the importance of an event like this is essential in fostering understanding in the city. The organization assists residents who recently moved to New Hampshire from Africa with making adjustments to their new home. Murenzi said the program offers after-school classes for kids and ESL classes for adults, and it can help with transportation to all of the necessary appointments that come with moving to a new country.
“We are one community and we can celebrate something together,” Murenzi said. “We can share, we can talk and meet and love your neighbor.”
Even though Concord-area residents won’t have to travel far to visit the festival, Fogg said, you never know what can happen by reaching out to a community member from another world away.
“You might make a new friend and learn something from that,” she said. “It will happen organically.”