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Twin Cities' diversity was celebrated at the Cultural Fest on Saturday. go!

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Bloomington — Vibrant exhibits from many cultures returned to Bloomington’s Miller Park on Saturday.

Called the Cultural Fest, the event has celebrated the diversity and heritage of the Twin Cities every year since 1979, according to program director Tony Jones.

He said the previous year’s event was scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, he said, he hopes to bring it back full steam ahead.

“This used to be a three-day event,” said the event program director.

He said he deliberately hosts a variety of performances in the hopes that visitors will be exposed to something other than the usual rounds.

Giving All Praise will perform gospel music at the Cultural Fest at Miller Park on Saturday. Shown on the left is her Elaine Hill, Bender’s coordinator.

Brendan Dennison

“I’m looking forward to the return of ballet this year,” Jones said, noting that their performances require more consideration, such as special floors.

The festival had 28 vendor tables from various companies and organizations.

Vendor Coordinator Elaine Hill said: “Not just one, but everyone in the community, and everyone feels welcome,” she said.

Giving All Praise will perform gospel music at the Cultural Fest at Miller Park on Saturday. On the left is Bender Her Coordinator Elaine Hill.

Brendan Dennison

Hill performed gospel music himself at Giving All Praise, followed by belly dancing at Tenth Muse Dance. This was followed by a tap dance show by McLean County Dance and a dance performance by BCAI Cultural Arts & Humanities. R&B band Unfinished His Business rounded out the afternoon.

USA Ballet director Michelle Holmes-Bello said they have been attending the event “for quite some time since its inception.”

She agreed that the Fest was a great experience for performing students, but added that it also helped teach them “that giving back to the community is so important.”

“Community involvement is one of the key foundations of USA Ballet and is our belief and mission,” said Holmes Bello. “It’s just amazing to be part of this. I really love it.”


Michelle Holmes-Bello

Bloomington-born author Andrew Snowton returned from Atlanta, Georgia to display his books in Miller Park. He said that because of Fest, “people know there are good people and good things happening in Bloomington-Normal.”

Snorton, who also appeared at the Juneteenth celebration earlier this summer, is selling copies of his book Nothing Minor. He said the book focuses on minor league baseball with some interviews of black players. A special section of the release featured the Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum, and he said he also sent a portion of the proceeds to the museum.


Andrew Snowton

Another vendor at the event was Sketchcustomtees. Bloomington owner Fallon Carruthers said he offers custom shirts, tumblers, mouse pads and other items for small businesses.

Carruthers said she loves the festival because she meets new people. I had her son enrolled in a martial arts organization.she said She also networked and enjoyed entertainment.

“It’s pretty great,” she said.


Fallon Carruthers

The Project XV Museum also participated in the festival. Board member Tabitha Noward said their museum is restoring the El Paso barber shop of David Stosur, the first black man in Illinois to vote.

She explained that one section of the ongoing museum, located in the Legacy Building at 1 W. Front St. in El Paso, will focus on civil rights and another on women’s suffrage and Indigenous peoples. Did. Opening is scheduled for 2024.

El Paso plans Illinois’ first museum to honor black voters

Board member Renee Thompson said the community involvement at the festival is great for downstate Illinois.

“There’s a lot of energy and passion behind it,” Thompson continued. “Voting rights matter so much. ”

She was at the Bloomington-Normal Alumni Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which registered people to vote at the event. First Vice President Takesha Stokes said everyone can choose and everyone can vote.

“We are just encouraging people to participate in the political process,” she said.

West Fest returns to Bloomington after two-year hiatus

The West Bloomington Revitalization Project’s Book Bike also participated in the festival and provided free books to children. Managing Director Kristen Berman said it was fun to attend the event and have people stop by and read a book.

“I see a lot of kids getting new backpacks, so fill them with new books too,” she encouraged.


Kristen Berman

Springfield’s Jajanika Johnson is also back at Miller Park after showing off her health supplies at this year’s Juneteenth. And she was at the Sunday Funday Market at Vrooman Mansion last month.

The owner of S&J Wellness Products said she is from Bloomington and has performed on festival stages with dance groups as an adult.

“I’m so happy to be back in the park,” Johnson said, adding that it’s great to see different cultures represented.


Jajanika Johnson

“It’s so diverse here,” she said. “It’s great – I love it.”

Please contact Brendan Dennison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Dennison on Twitter. @Brendan Dennison