June 20--It may be a small world after all, but the Walk Around the World International Festival keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The fourth annual festival, intended to connect people with different cultures, will be extended this year from 2 hours to 12 hours.
Festivities run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday at the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester. The festival was started by the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association in 2010 in recognition of World Refugee Day.
"We wanted to do this in a way where we would not only increase awareness of refugees around the world, but also talk about those refugees who have settled in our community, and let people know how they have added to our community. The benefits they have brought to us," said Ron Buzard, executive director of the IMAA.
This year, IMAA gots two big partners in the The Rochester Downtown Alliance and Broadway Residence Inn and Suites by Bridgestreet. The new partners allowed the event to expand.
Food will be a part of the festival for the first time, and music and other entertainment will be performed all day in the Peace Plaza. More than 30 vendors will be displaying a diverse representation of food, products, services and cultures. The Peace Plaza stage will be programmed with a full cultural performance lineup to express the wide array of multicultural talent.
"We have seen a lot of growth this year," Buzard said. "It's going to be our best festival yet."
Melissa Schmid, RDA events director, said the downtown alliance jumped on board for several reasons, including the opportunity to promote downtown Rochester as a hub of rich cultural expression and diversity.
"Our goals for the festival are simple and come from a shared belief that the human heart is one and the same," Schmid said.
The event will kick off with an opening ceremony and parade of flags followed by a full lineup of live performances through 8:30 p.m. The event will conclude with a showing of "The Citizen" at 9 p.m. in conjunction with Movies on the Plaza. In addition to the free entertainment, children's activities will be programmed on the grassy area of the Peace Plaza.
The festival will take place rain or shine.
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