How to take part in the International Festival of Holland

The city of Holland is inviting community members to be part of the International Festival of Holland, a daylong event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30. at the Holland Civic Center Place.

Individuals and families can participate in a first-time event, the Festival of Flags, by carrying the flag of their homeland or that of their ancestors. The Parade of Flags will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will start at the Holland Civic Center, proceed down through the Farmers Market, south along Pine Avenue, west along Ninth Street, and return to the Civic Center’s front steps for a group photo. Flags of all 193 United Nations member countries will be available. There is no fee to participate, but you have to sign up at the festival’s website:

Middle-school-aged athletes are invited to take the pitch in the festival’s World Arena Soccer Jamboree, hosted by USA Soccer and sponsored by Haworth Helps. This is a free, 4-on-4 tournament for boys and girls born in 2010-2012. The Jamboree will be played on fields across Kollen Park starting at 10 a.m. Signup is at

Volunteers needed

And what would a festival be without volunteers?. Individuals, families, employee groups, and community groups are needed to help with festival preparations and event activities, starting the week before the festival and including the big day.

“The festival has expanded, and so has our need for volunteers,” says Esther Fifelski, director of the city’s Human Relations Department. “We need people to help with preparations, photographers to capture the day’s fun, volunteers for the Gentex Children’s Fiesta and Festival Mercado, festival ambassadors, and all-around helpers. Be a part of the excitement and help bring the world to West Michigan.” 

Assignment descriptions, time slots, and signup are at

Visitors walk around the non-profit organization booths in the Holland Civic Center while attending the International Festival of Holland. (J.R. Valderas)
Highlighting community’s cultures

Event visitors will have the opportunity to eat, shop, and dance their way around the world with international artists, a Festival Mercado (marketplace) and a Children’s Fiesta.

The Festival Main Stage will feature artists performing Cuban, Japanese, African, North American and Mexican music and dance.

 “We wanted to shine the spotlight on the cultural traditions that make up our community so we can better celebrate our friends and neighbors,” says Michael Cuellar, chair of the International Relations Commission, which is hosting the festival. ”At the same time, the Mercado vendors, with their variety of delicious food and amazing goods, will help us experience the wider world.”

Vendors at the Festival Mercado will offer food from India, the Middle East, Ireland, Scotland, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Philippines, and Africa. Jewelry, clothing, housewares, and folk art from around the world will be available for purchase. West Michigan nonprofit organizations involved in international work abroad and at home will share their stories. Vendor spaces are still available, and applications can be found at

Youngsters create passports in the Passport Station section of the Children’s Fiesta during the International Festival of Holland at the Holland Civic Center. (J.R. Valderas)

The Gentex Children’s Fiesta will feature hands-on global art stations hosted by CultureWorks, a Festival Passport Station, and new this year, a Festival Treasure Dig hosted by The Bridge. Special children’s performances include a Japanese drumming demonstration, a ballet folklórico dance lesson, and a Chinese dragon dance.

Event sponsors

The International Festival is hosted by the city of Holland’s International Relations Commission and its International Festival Advisory Board. Sponsors are Gentex Corp., Haworth Helps, the Holland Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Metal Flow, Plascore, PADNOS, the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors, the Brooks Family, Holland Hospital, Midwest Communications’ WHTC 1450 and 99.7FM, and The Van 92.7. 

For more information about the festival, including parade signup, schedule, and map, visit and follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.