Jeremiah Knupp -- September 23rd, 2011
One is a Harrisonburg tradition over a decade old. The other is a grassroots movement in its inaugural year. This Saturday two very different events will be taking place in Harrisonburg. But both events share a common goal; bringing members of the community together in a display of unity.
The International Festival, an event that started in 1997, is a well-known mix of international music, dance and food that brings participants and visitors from throughout the Mid-Atlantic. This year’s event, which will continue to build on the theme, ”Celebrating CommUNITY,” will also place special emphasis on marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and remembering the victims of the Japanese tsunami.
“We want people to think about the fact that every ripple, every wave is felt by us all,” said Vaunda Brown, one of the event’s coordinators.
Also taking place on Saturday is Moving Planet, a world-wide event that seeks to put emphasis on reducing carbon emissions and pursuing alternative sources of energy. The date for Moving Planet was established by 350.org, an organization whose goal is to reduce the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to below 350 parts-per-million, an amount that scientists say is crucial to help slow our climate crisis. Around the world local organizers will tailor the event to their individual communities.
Harrisonburg’s Moving Planet will begin at Ralph Sampson Park with several speakers addressing topics from local environmental issues to national concerns, like the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Then participants will move across town in a mass bicycle ride that will end at the International Festival’s location at Hillandale Park, uniting the two events. The local groups represented will man informational booths at the Festival’s Green Village area.
“Our goal is to get the whole community involved,” said Ryan Bowen, a JMU senior and one of the event’s organizers. “Typically there is a divide between JMU students and members of the community and we’re seeking to help unite the community and bring both of those aspects together.”
The International Festival will take place in Hillandale Park from 12 to 6 p.m. For more information and a schedule of events see the Festival’s Web site. Parking at the park will be limited to vehicles carrying four or more people and those with disabilities or special needs. Everyone else is encouraged to walk or bike to the festival or use shuttle services, which leave from the parking lot of Westover Park (305 S. Dogwood) and from JMU’s Memorial Hall (the former Harrisonburg High School).
Those interested in participating in the Moving Planet can meet at Ralph Sampson Park at noon before moving to Hillandale Park by bicycle to join with the International Festival.
Photos by Holly Marcus courtesy of the Harrisonburg International Festival.