KINGSTON - A free multicultural festival at Kingston’s T.R. Gallo West Strand Park from noon to 4 p.m. June 8 will feature live ethnic music, dance and comedy, along with multicultural handicrafts, children’s activities, food and drinks.
The Kingston Community Block Party, as the annual event in its second year is called, will also include classic "all-American" foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs. Kosher options will additionally be available.
Participating groups will represent cultures of African-Americans, American Indians, Eastern Europeans, Jewish-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and Americans of German, Greek, Irish, Japanese, Scottish, Spanish and Ukrainian origin or ancestry.
The children’s activities will include arts and crafts, face painting, games, singing and storytelling.
In the event of rain, the family-friendly block party - the only event of its type between New York City and Albany - will be held at the Andy Murphy Midtown Neighborhood Center, on Broadway at the corner of Hoffman Street in midtown Kingston.
"The purpose behind the block party is to build community by providing an event that brings together all of the many different cultures that have put down roots in Kingston and Ulster County," said Geoff Miller, chairman of the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History, which is hosting the event.
"That day we will all come together to celebrate the many distinct cultural traditions in our community in one place, at one time," he said.
All entertainment, activities, handicrafts and food will be provided by more than a dozen community organizations representing a wide variety of Kingston and surrounding-area racial, ethnic and cultural groups. In addition, for the first time, festival attendees will have an opportunity to take a "diversity pledge," honoring the dignity of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, heritage and other human and societal differences.
Children and adults who take the pledge will receive a free silicone wristband that says, "Celebrate Diversity."
An eight-person steering committee putting the event together includes an information specialist from Ulster County Tourism, whose office provided meeting space, and the folklorist from Arts Mid-Hudson, formerly the Dutchess County Arts Council, who provided planning assistance.
Festival seating is informal, so please bring blankets or folding chairs, Miller said.
For more information, go to rehercenter.org or the Reher Center’s Facebook page, facebook.com/ReherBakery. Information is also available at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (845) 338-8131.