After 21 years on the front lawn of First Presbyterian Church, 1328 Griffith Ave., the Owensboro Multicultural Festival is going online this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Debbie McCoy, festival chairwoman, said the committee decided not to risk a live event this year, even though it’s on Aug. 15.

“We feel like there will still be social distancing then,” she said. “In the past, we’ve had a couple thousand people on the church lawn. We don’t think there’s any way to keep them six feet apart.”

McCoy said First Presbyterian has a lot of at-risk members.

“We’d feel bad if we invited people to come and someone got sick,” she said.

In the past, there have been a lot of booths representing different cultures.

And there’s a lot of touching of objects and written materials.

About 15 cultures have been represented at the festival in years past, including Mexico, Thailand, Bolivia, Burma, China, Czech Republic, Haiti, Japan and Slovakia.

The free public event began in 1999 when Winny Lin, a First Presbyterian member, wanted to celebrate diversity in the community.

She moved to California in 2014 to be closer to family and others took over.

Last year’s festival featured a blues band, Indian and Latino dancers and the Bluegrass Children’s Theatre along with information booths, face painting and demonstrations on how to make stage props.

McCoy said the online festival will be available at facebook.com/owensboromulticulturalfestival.

This year’s theme is “We Are In This Together.”

The online festival will feature a virtual “people’s parade,” video highlights of Owensboro’s multicultural food scene, musical performances, a scavenger hunt to help young people understand global cultures and art projects that can be done at home.

McCoy said the virtual parade will feature video footage from past festivals and people who have attended in past years can send in selfies of themselves waving.

The various pieces of video will be edited into the virtual parade, she said.

Several musicians, including bluegrass fiddler Mackenzie Bell, will record video performances for the event, McCoy said.

“My hope each year is that the Owensboro Multicultural Festival will serve as a conversation starter,” she said. “In this time when so much has changed, we need to be reminded that we aren’t alone. It takes all of us, representing a diversity of races and cultures, to make a strong community that can bounce back from the challenges we face.”

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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