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Lillian Casillas
La Casa

Melanie Castillo-Cullather
Asian Culture Center

Last modified: Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Groups come together to plan Bloomington Multicultural Expo 2009

Soul Food Festival, Festival Latino, Moon Festival join forces

WHAT: 2009 Bloomington Multicultural Expo
WHEN: Sat., Oct. 10, 11 a.m-4 p.m.
WHERE: Bryan Park, 1001 S. Henderson Street

Sept. 16, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- After years of pouring their efforts into three separate, sometimes-competing events, three of Bloomington's cultural organizations have joined forces to present "2009 Bloomington Multicultural Expo," featuring the Soul Food Festival, Festival Latino and the Moon Festival. This effort evolved into the creation of "festival villages" with an additional "International Festival Village" to focus on the celebration of cultures around the world.

The Soul Food Festival is hosted by the Bloomington Black Business and Professional Association. Festival Latino is organized by La Casa, the Latino Cultural Center at Indiana University, while the Moon Festival is overseen by IU's Asian Culture Center (ACC). The ACC's student groups will also host a separate Moon Festival Oct. 3, on the IU Bloomington campus, in Dunn Meadow.

The combined festivals are free and open to the public and will take place at Bryan Park, Oct. 10, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Bloomington Multicultural Expo

Bloomington Multicultural Expo will take place Oct. 10 at Bryan Park

Print-Quality Photo

"The purpose of the Bloomington Multicultural Expo is to celebrate the diverse populations living in Bloomington," said Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa. "Throughout the afternoon of Oct. 10, Bryan Park will come alive with the culture and expression of Bloomington residents. This festival will promote the appreciation and respect for the value and strength of our diverse community."

The festival will include four cultural "villages" -- Soul Food Festival Village, Festival Latino Village, Moon Festival Village and International Festival Village -- which will celebrate cultures from around the world.

Each village will provide children's activities, and several will sell ethnic foods. A varied lineup of musicians and dancers will perform throughout the day. Among other activities and entertainment, the following performances are scheduled to take place during the festival:

  • 11:10-11:30 a.m.: IU International Folk Dancers. The group will present several folk dances from Europe and the Middle East.
  • 11:30-11:45 a.m.: Traditional Indian dances. Shirin Ansari will perform a dance in the Bharta Natyam style.
  • 11:45 a.m.-noon: IU Gumboot Dancers. This group aims to educate, build community and create a fun atmosphere by performing this South African dance tradition, which developed in the mines of South Africa as a response to racial oppression.
  • Noon-12:30 p.m.: Moon Festival and Diwali with Ragaranjani led by Rama Cousic. Cousic will perform two solo classical Indian dances and one group performance as well as three songs from classical Indian folk songs and films.
  • 1-1:30 p.m.: Janiece Jaffee and Curtis Cantwell Jackson, two Bloomington jazz musicians.
  • 1:30-1:40 p.m.: Bethel AME Church Choir.
  • 1:40-2 p.m.: Brother from Another, a Bloomington duo performing hip hop and rap.
  • 2-2:15 p.m.: Bette Lucas with Baila! Baila! flamenco dancers.
  • 2:15-2:30 p.m.: Ritmos Latinos Indiana. This IU-affiliated local dance group tha practices, teaches and performs a traditional Cuban form of salsa called rueda de casino and is open to members of the community. Rueda (from the Spanish for "wheel") is performed in a circle and is led by a caller who signals the moves.
  • 2:30-2:45 p.m.: Hawaiian dance. With native Hawaiians Carol Reynolds and Ed Hiram, who play "Happa Haole" music (half Hawaiian, half English).
  • 2:45-3:30 p.m.: The multicultural musical group Tumbao. Plays a variety of dance music, including salsa, merengue, bachata, boleros, cha cha cha, cumbia and more.
  • 3:30-3:45 p.m.: El Grupo de Teatro VIDA (Vision, Identity, Drama and Art). A Spanish-language performance group for both native and non-native speakers. The group aims to produce plays that foster cultural understanding and promote the richness of Hispanic culture and expression through live theater in Bloomington.
  • 3:45-4 p.m.: Colors of Turkey. Featuring Serdar Abaci on Saz, a stringed instrument, Rasit Celik on bendir, a percussion instrument and dancer Elif Karacan, who will perform music and folk dance from Anatolia and the Western Mediterranean region of Turkey.

The Mathers Museum will offer hands-on activities that include making masks and musical instruments from South and Central America, learning about Africa through its rich weaving traditions and even designing artifacts while learning about artifacts from around the world.

The ACC will highlight the Moon Festival, a celebration of the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar calendar (also known as the "Harvest Moon"), and Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, which this year falls on Oct. 17.

"We are thrilled to host the Asian Culture Center village featuring activities that will highlight the role of the moon in Asian cultural life by featuring the Moon and Diwali festivals," said Melanie Castillo-Cullather, director of the ACC. "The moon is believed to be rounder and brighter on this day, which then is translated to signify an abundance of harvests."

Hindus in South Asia celebrate the fall harvest by celebrating "Diwali" or the Festival of Lights as the Indian New Year on the new moon day. Diwali generally falls in the month of October or November and this year falls on Oct. 17.

"People of Indian and other South Asian heritages celebrate Diwali by cleaning and decorating their homes with the rows of lighted candles or clay lamps called 'diyas,' Castillo-Cullather said. "The lighting of the candles signifies hope, happiness, and positive energy. Like the Moon Festival, Diwali also is celebrated with social gatherings and traditional foods."

Bloomington Multicultural Expo

Artisans will demonstrate their crafts at Bloomington Multicultural Expo 2009.

Print-Quality Photo

"Besides promoting appreciation and respect for our diverse community, the Expo brings together a group of dynamic community organizations that are committed to diversity and to honoring the good it brings to our community," said Sandy Britton, director of the Leo R. Dowling International Center.

2009 Bloomington Multicultural Expo is sponsored by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation, Leo R. Dowling International Center, City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources, Bloomington Black Business and Professional Association, Indiana University Commission on Multicultural Understanding, IU Residential Program and Services, IU Latino Studies Program, IU La Casa, IU Asian Cultural Center, IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, Monroe County Community School Corp. and Monroe County government.

For more information, see To apply for a booth space at the Bloomington Mulicultural Expo, see