So around 9:15 last night I got into my car and drove to the lakefront to capture the end of Columbia International Day. It was late and I didn't expect much, and what I saw met with my expectations.
International Day to me has always been kind of underwhelming. Not so much because of the amount of food and craft vendors, but because of the lack of emphasis Columbia places on the event. In my view the International Day (weekend? week?) should be every bit as big as the Festival of the Arts.
A few ideas to make the event bigger and better:
1. Like I wrote above, make it longer. One day isn't good for everyone. Make it a weekend-- or longer.
2. Get more vendors to represent, literally, all six continents. And hey, if you can get someone to represent Antarctica, do that too! : )
3. Arrange all of the vendors EPCOT- style, to give visitors the feel that they are moving into other parts of the world. Go from Australia into Asia, then Africa, then Europe, then South America, then North America.
4. Define the borders between each village with some sort of boundary, as, for example, the different neighborhoods of the Symphony of Lights are arranged. An asian-style arch to denote that neighborhood, an awning that loosely resembles the Sydney Opera House... those may be a little kitschy but this is fun, family entertainment as well as...
5. Educational. There doesn't seem to be really, any educational component to the International Day. How about a showcase of projects from foreign language classes at the high schools and HCC?
Having been a veteran of Baltimore's ethnic festivals, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a great ethnic festival gives the visitor a feeling of actually being at that location, a feeling of sensing things authentic to that part of the world. The Columbia International Day never gives me that feeling. And it should.