International Friendship Center to bring “Carnaval” to Highlands

The International Friendship Center is bringing its 2nd annual Carnaval de Colores to Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park on Sept. 22 (tomorrow).

The newly-created event serves as the kick-off celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.

Attendees at last year’s Carnaval at The Village Green learn some dance moves on stage.

IFC Executive Director T. J. Smith said the event is meant to shine a light on the Hispanic communities in and around the Plateau.

“We want to center and celebrate our Hispanic community members,” Smith said. “They are such an important part of the Plateau, but are often overlooked by the community at-large. We want to change that.”

Last year, the IFC hosted its first Carnaval de Colores at the Village Green in Cashiers. That event, like this year’s in Highlands, was 100% free and open to the public.

This year’s Caranaval will take place tomorrow at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park in Highlands.

Smith said over 400 people attended the inaugural Carnival to celebrate Hispanic heritage and several local nonprofits hosted games and information booths.

Community members prepared traditional foods that were provided free of charge to event attendees. There were also performances from traditional artists. Smith said this year’s event will include all of that and more.

“Yes, we will have tamales and music and dancing, but we have also invited some traditional artists from the Hispanic community to come and share their skills with us,” he said. “We have jewelers and textile artists and others who will be demonstrating and promoting their crafts.”

Local nonprofits will be on hand to educate youngsters through arts and crafts.

Additionally, the festival will now be on a regular rotation between Highlands and Cashiers on alternating years. And, while the Cashiers event was designed as a kind of old-fashioned town carnival, this year’s event is to be a street festival and will encompass the Founders Park and Pine Street.

“I’m really excited about the street festival aspect of this – I was very pleased when the Town Council approved our application to use the park and the street,” Smith noted.

The festival begins at 5:30 p.m. and will run until around 9 p.m.

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

For more information about the International Friendship Center click HERE.

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