Annual International Summerfest in Battle Creek will offer visitors an opportunity to sample the cuisine and learn about the culture of the various nationalities that make up the city’s diverse population, says Danni Heddinger, Community Initiative Associate with BC Vision which is hosting the festival.
This year’s event will be on Aug. 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the campus of Kellogg Community College. It is free and open to the public.
“There’s quite a multitude of backgrounds and cultures here in Battle Creek,” Heddinger says. “We have people from countries including Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Japan, Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. By showcasing all of these backgrounds, the festival gives people opportunities to try food that they may not have tried before and see cultural presentations that they may not have seen before.
“This is a great way to create a community culture here.”
In addition to food from various countries, games and activities, there will be live performances that include a Mariachi band and drummers from the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Huron Pottawatomi. The tribe owns and operates Firekeepers Casino in Emmett Township.
Heddinger says she expects to have a full list of the lineup for the day’s events by July 12. Vendor applications
are being accepted through July 1.
The city’s first International SummerFest was first took place in 1975 to promote and celebrate the Battle Creek’s cultural diversity. The annual celebration was started by the Japan Club.
The city’s Fort Custer Industrial Park is home to numerous Japanese companies. In addition, there is a Battle Creek Saturday Japanese School, which serves the children of Japanese nationals who come to work for one of the Japanese companies for a specific period of time.
This enables these students to keep up with their peers in Japan so that they don’t fall behind when they return they return home.
Heddinger says people who attend the festival are often surprised by the cultural diversity represented there. Organizers with BC Vision are hoping to see more than 2,000 in attendance at this year’s event.
BC Vision is a nonprofit that began in 2014 with a focus on increasing jobs, talent, and the culture of vitality in Battle Creek.
“Unless you’re part of a certain nationality, you might not know that we have such a rich cultural diversity here,” Heddinger says. “In our own backyard, we have so many different cultures. You may have heard of the Burma Center or Cafe Rica, but you may never have tried their cold-brewed coffee from Colombia.
“Now more than ever with the way the world is we need to have a sense of peace and unity and realize that we’re different, but the same in many ways.”