Cultural Festival Goes Virtual This Month

One of the many food vendors at a past World Food and Music Festival, which is moving online this year. Photo: Greater Des Moines Partnership

Writer: Allaire Nuss

The 16th Annual World Food and Music Festival is returning for a socially distanced celebration of the area’s cultures and heritages. The festival, hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, will be held Sept. 12-20 via online programming and safe in-person events.

Downtown Events Director Colleen Murphy says she and many others have been working to preserve the spirit of the festival despite the challenges of COVID-19. The festival attracts about 90,000 every year, making it one of the largest gatherings in Des Moines. “We knew that we couldn’t do what we’d done in the past,” she says. “It’s really not feasible to have a traditional festival this year.”

While the numbers will be different this year, there will be some normalcy. The same multicultural flags will line the East Village, just as they have the past 15 years. Organizers will send out 1,000 free culture activity kits to individuals to enjoy at home. And, of course, there’s the food. This year’s Community Cookout will be virtual, with participants creating their own recipes at home and sharing on social media.

But the festival isn’t the only time or way to experience multiculturalism, Murphy notes. It’s only a showcase for what Des Moines already has to offer for restaurants and cultural organizations.

“I think a lot of people are always surprised at what is here, at what is a part of our community,” she says. “It’s such a joy to be a part of.”

Find out more about the World Music Festival here.

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