It may have been cancelled in 2020 during the pandemic, but the Keene International Festival is back this year and ready to help the community celebrate its rich and vibrant cultural diversity.
This free, family-friendly event will be held on Saturday, September 18 at the Keene Recreation Center at 312 Washington Street in Keene from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be activities and events that are appropriate for all ages.
The Keene International Festival was first held in 2018, where it drew in over 500 people from around the region. In 2019 they partnered up with Keene’s Human Rights Committee and had around 1,000 attendees the following year. The festival is also partnered with the City of Keene, Keene India Association, the Cheshire County Historical Society and The Keene Public Library.
This event is meant to engage and connect people to each other through cultural activities and performances. The festival committee believes that bringing people together and celebrating diversity will help bring peace and justice to the community.
There will be musical and dance performances scheduled throughout the day on Saturday. According to their website the schedule is as follows:
11:30 a.m.: Silambatam with Keerthana. Silambatam is an Indian martial art that originated in Southern India. It is one of the oldest martial arts in the world that was practiced for centuries for self-defense. Ancient literature shows that this art form has been in practice since the 4th Century BC.
11:40 a.m.: Nepali Dancing. Nepalese students from Keene State College will perform Nepali dancing.
Noon: African drumming and tap dancing. African drummers Ronald R. Smith and Dara M. Adams-Smith will perform African drumming, while Julian A. Smith performs tap dancing.
12:40 p.m.: Greek dancing. St. George Greek Orthodox Church will perform some Greek dances.
1:20 p.m.: Musical performance by NAGME Quartet. This quartet performs a contemporary expression of the beauty of modality from Turkey and from the various East Mediterranean traditions.
2:00 p.m.: Musical performance by Dis-N-Dat Band. This band incorporates roots reggae, dance hall and rhythm and blues combined with the sounds of Jamaica and Trinidad.
TBA: Indian Bollywood Dancing. The Keene India Association will perform Bollywood dancing.
Among the dancing and musical performances, The Keene International Market will be attending the festival and will be selling their food from countries such as India, Nepal, Mexico, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Japan, Peru and many others.
Along with the Keene International Market there will be other food vendors such as Finnish Mama, a bakery out of Jaffrey; Royal Spice, an Indian restaurant out of Troy; Yahso Jamaican Grille from Keene; A Taste of Thai from Brattleboro; and food from St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Keene.
There will also be a global market where global artisans will be selling their wares. Some items available to purchase will include: Peruvian dolls, Finnish birch bark handcrafts, Indian fashion and Russian jewelry.
Games and activities will be happening throughout the day for the community to partake in. Some of the activities scheduled are below:
• Indian Mehendi, also known as Henna,
which is an ancient form of body art
• Japanese origami, the art of folding paper
• Indian Carrom, a tabletop game
• German hammering game
• Spinning demonstrations
• Mancala, a strategy board game using stones or gems
• Indian Rahki
• Face painting
For more information on the festival and the full list of performances and vendors you can visit them on Facebook or at https://keeneinternationalfestival.org/. Donations are welcome for the event and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward festival activities. Donations can be sent to 3 Washington Street, Keene, NH 03431. ATTN: Keene International Festival.