Boise is Idaho’s international city.
Despite having a predominately white population, people from all over the world have made Boise their home. Boise has welcomed refugees and immigrants for decades. Back in the 1980s, hundreds of people fleeing Communist domination in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and refugees from the Soviet Union arrived in Idaho. In the 1990s, more than 5,000 refugees began a new life in Idaho, with more than half of those people fleeing civil war and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through the 2000s, people from Iraq, Congo, Burma, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Somalia have resettled in Idaho.
Since the beginning of 2022, 713 individuals have resettled in Idaho, with 78% resettling within Boise. It's not lost on any of us that Boise is growing and changing, but it's important to recognize that one of those changes is toward more diversity.
There is no better proof of this than World Village Festival.
After a two-year hiatus, the three day international festival is returning to Cecil D. Andrus Park in downtown Boise. World Village Festival invites people to come together to learn about and interact with the many different cultures that make up the Treasure Valley.
“This festival is a chance to celebrate and meet people who are a little bit different from ourselves, and maybe whose paths we don't cross every day,” said Donna Kovaleski, co-founder of World Village Festival, in a Morning Edition interview last Friday.
“It is truly a celebration of not only the traditions, but the dance, music, art, food, and fashions. We'll really get to see kind of a broad span of the things that people hold most dear and are sharing for the sake of preserving their culture,” said Kovaleski.
World Village Festival features live music and dance performances, ethnic foods, arts and crafts, games, and goods from around the world, brought to you by Boise-based cultural groups and nonprofits. More than 15 cultures are represented at the fest, including Mexican, Laotian, Scandinavian, Japanese, African, Chinese, Western-American, Spanish, Basque, Indonesian, Iranian/Persian, Congolese, Ukrainian, Jewish/Eastern-European, Cuban, and Puerto Rican.
The festival is Friday, June 24 from 4-10pm, Saturday, June 25 from 10am-10pm, and Sunday, June 26 from 10am-6pm. It's free and open to all people of all ages.
Here's a few things to look forward to:
Each day of World Village has live music. The majority of the lineup are bands based in the Boise area, with two regional bands headlining Friday and Saturday nights. You can look forward to:
Biotzetik Basque Choir kicks off the festival on Friday at 4pm. The choir has about 55 members and sings traditional Basque songs.
Afrosonics, a Boise band that is all about bringing people together, is playing Friday night at 7:30pm. One of the first From Boise stories told the Afrosonics story and how the band (and Global Lounge and World Village Fest) came to be.
Tora’dan is led by husband-wife duo Jan and Tovas Porvas, often backed by a band. You may have seen them perform at Treefort Music Fest in the past. Jan, Tovas and their young daughter arrived in Boise in the summer of 2016 and aim to keep their Sufi cultural traditions alive through their music. They play at 4pm on Saturday.
ÌFÉ is playing the Saturday night at 9pm. The New Orleans-based African American producer blends elements of Afro-Cuban folklore and Yoruban religious music with bass-driven modern Jamaican Dancehall, Trap, and Afro-beat. It's suuuper cool, don't miss it.
Kawa Taiko is a Japanese American drum ensemble that plays Taiko (a range of Japanese percussion instruments) in the Treasure Valley/Eastern Oregon area. They will perform on Sunday afternoon at 1:20pm. Here is a cool story on the group from Boise State Public Radio.
Tejano Outlaw channels the sounds of south Texas, driven by the accordion and bajo sexto, to get people up and moving on the dance floor. They will close out the festival on Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm.
Dance is a big part of the festival and the many cultures represented at the fest. There are a dozen or so performances, including:
Shimi Tree, a Spanish Flamenco group formed by Estefanía Sanchez and her partner Luis de La Tota. Estefanía aims to communicate the meaning and feeling of the music, even to those who don’t speak Spanish. See her perform on Friday at 4:50pm.
Wakandeez is an Afro-hiphop dance group composed of four young men with diverse backgrounds and dance styles. They made this really rad music video with Afrosonics.
Boise Chinese Traditional Dance Group practices traditional folk dance, working to preserve an important part of Chinese culture in the Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American communities. They will perform at 10:10am on Saturday morning.
Indo Idaho is a nonprofit whose mission is to promote Indonesian culture in Idaho. They will perform traditional Indonesian dance and music on Saturday morning at 11am.
Makatas Dancers are a traditional African dance group in Boise and if you haven't seen them, you should. It's really cool. They perform on Saturday afternoon at 3:20pm.
Food & drink
Food is an important part of many cultures and sharing food with others has long been a means for coming together. Some food options to be ready for:
Darjeeling MoMo Nepalese Food Truck is the place for dumplings, noodles and authentic Nepalese cuisine.
Taste of Nigeria African Cuisine offers a mix of flavors from Nigeria's diverse ethnic cuisines. Try Jollof rice with chicken, goat meat pepper soup, efo riro, and dodo (fried plantain). You will be comin back for more.
Kibroms Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine will be at the fest to bring you all kinds of goodness on top of fluffy injera bread. One of Boise's best restaurants, for sure.
Oh Vegan Soul, a Boise fave, will be serving up her incredible vegan soul food.
Bochi Bochi Japanese Eats will also be there with noodle and rice bowls, dumplings and more.
World Village Festival is very family-friendly and has two kid-specific events:
Brown Like Me is doing a kids arts and crafts section all three days. Swing your kiddos by there to make something special.
The other cool kid-related event is Youth Street Soccer. On Saturday from 11am-5pm, Jefferson Street between 6th and 8th Streets will transform into 4 street soccer fields. This is free & open to people age 7-18. Funnn!
You can find more info about World Village Festival at globallounge.org/world-village-festival. Hope to see you there!
Thanks for reading!
With love from Boise,
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