International festival returning to Holland

Holland is an international city, and one festival aims to celebrate that.

The 2021 International Festival of Holland will make stops in India, Africa, Cuba, Spain, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean with music, food, cultural exhibits and more.

The free festival, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at Civic Center Place (150 W. Eighth St.) will feature more than 70 musicians and performers, a special Children’s Fiesta, and a Festival Mercado with global gifts and food.

Almost 9 percent of the city’s population speaks a language other than English in the home, according to the latest Census data.

The International Festival of Holland is a chance to learn more about neighbors’ cultures and more about them as people, Fifelski says.

“The city is changing,” she says. 

Holland has been trying to cultivate its relationship with sister city Querétaro, Mexico, Holland Human Relations Director Esther Fifelski says, and special guest Fernando Gonzalez Saiffe, Michigan Consul General for Mexico will speak at the festival.

Check out the full schedule of events below.

Main stage (Great Hall)
11:30 a.m. Pokagon Band of Potawatomi drum and dance presentation

Noon Welcome by Holland Mayor Nathan Bocks and remarks by special guest Fernando Gonzalez Saiffe, Michigan Consul General for Mexico

12:30 p.m. Ballet Folklórico Sol Azteca displays Latino culture through folklórico dance, music, costume design, and construction. A program of Holland Public Schools, this group of PreK-12 dancers are taught dances from various regions of Mexico by Angela Gonzalez-Urbina and mentored by Holland High School students and alumni. 

1:10 p.m. Compañeros de Flamenco Colorful costumes, compelling guitar music, and intricate footwork tell the story of Spain’s multicultural heritage

2 p.m. Neil Jacobs - World 12 String Guitar Gypsy, world, Celtic, Balkan folk, jazz, classical and modern fingerstyle

3 p.m. Raion Taiko Japanese Drumming Ensemble The "sound of thunder" and rhythm of rain through the soundscapes of Japanese taiko drumming

4 p.m. Motherland House Concert original African music, spoken word, art and real-life stories from African artists 

5 p.m. Sangeeta’s Music and Dance of India Internationally renowned exponent of Odissi, the oldest classical dance form of India. Sangeeta is also an award-winning singer and performs regularly on Indian TV, movies, stage, and CDs.

6 p.m. Gratitude Steel Band Reggae, soca, calypso, and pop music  

7 p.m. Tumbao Bravo authentic rhythms of Cuba with original compositions 

8 p.m. Blackthorn Traditional Celtic songs of emigration, ballads, shanties, jigs, and reels 

Gentex Children's Fiesta (Market View Room)

1-5 p.m. Pattern Making Around the World with CultureWorks

1-5 p.m. Passport Station

Gentex Children's Fiesta stage (Market View Room)

1:30-2 p.m. Sangeeta’s Music & Dance of India

2:30-3 p.m. Gratitude Steel Band

3:30-4 p.m. UKEn (ukulele fun with Ken Freestone)

4:30-5 p.m. Neil Jacobs-World 12 String Guitar

Festival Mercado (Market Side Room and City Market)

3-8 p.m. Shop global goods and dine on international cuisine

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.