Jordan Hirigoyen CFNN Reporter

Festival goers peruse the various cultural booths at the Folk Festival

This past weekend, reporters Jordan Hirigoyen and Curtis Coleman set their eyes to the 41st annual International Folk Festival in Festival Park to learn what it was all about. In addition to interviewing spectators and participators in the festival, they also got first-hand experience volunteering to help the festival flow as smooth as possible. 

“I like volunteering at the festival because it gets me out in the community, and for this event specifically, gets me exposed to different cultures around the world,” Coleman said. “All the people who we volunteered under were happy to be there and wanted everyone else at the festival to truly feel involved in other cultures of the world.”

The festival focuses on exposing cities around the country to foreign traditions and culture. Although the festival focuses around exposure through food and condiments of the countries, the people and communities are always readily available to further involve anyone into their lifestyles. 

We spoke to Ayako Peverley who represented the Island of Okinawa at the “Fayetteville Okinawa Kenjin Kai” pavillion. Here, they were selling food native to the island of Okinawa and their traditional household.

The Fayetteville Okinawa Kenjin Kai booth

“It has been 24 years since this group was started and we’re now young people coming up to try and spread our culture to the younger generations through this festival,” Peverly said.

“Okinawa is also very special because it has a very big military base. Because of this when military who have come back home come to the festival and see us they feel almost reunited with family. They are also familiar with Okinawa culture and history which makes them family with us to some extent.” 

The festival’s cultural representation stems out to many other parts of the world than Asia. We spoke to Shirley Noel, who represented the nation of Grenada, to get her thoughts on her favorite parts of the festival and her involvement.

Shirley Noel mans her booth

“I enjoy cooking so I look forward to doing it every year for the festival.” Shirley also told us that she is involved in the medical field as she works with dialysis tubing for patients. 

“I’ll tell you just like I tell my patients, I enjoy this not so much because of the money, but I love meeting people and interacting with people like I am doing with you right now.” 

“I enjoy having the festival at Fayetteville. It is a multicultural place because of the military base and it gets so many different cultures involved. A lot of people also don’t know about this tiny little island in the Caribbean so I also enjoy teaching people about Grenada and everything about it.” 

Lastly, We spoke to Emma Santiago who was an attendee and spectator of the festival. 

“I really enjoy the food and talking to the nice Chinese ladies. It also makes me happy seeing a Phillipino booth and just feeling overall represented,” Santiago said. 

“As someone who loves food I see it as a good way to connect people to cultures they usually would never come into contact with.”

As a whole, the 41st annual International folk festival was a huge success this year and accomplished its goal of bringing people and traditions across the world together in one place. Us here at Cape Fear News Network hope to see you attending the festival next year and learning about other cultures!