FMU hosted the annual Arts International Festival in downtown Florence on Dargan St. to celebrate international culture, art and cuisine.
On April 9, the front of the FMU Performing Arts Center (PAC) was lined with flags from many nations and was crowded with FMU students, faculty and Florence community members. The event took place from noon until 5 p.m., and the festival offered a variety of events for attendees to participate in.
Arts International had two performance stages: an international stage and a concert stage. The international stage featured performances by Bichini Bia Congo dancers, Drake Irish dancers and Cirque-Tacular. The Congo dancers had the crowd participate as many of the on-lookers joined in the Congolese and African dancing. Cirque-Tacular performed a show, which included aerial acrobatics, contour shin and body balancing.
“My favorite thing about the festival was Cirque- Tacular,” Amy Benton, junior mathematics major, said. “The performers were very entertaining and knew how to work the crowd, even with the wind.”
The concert stage held music performances by The Malpass Brothers, a classic country cover band, and the Pachanga Latin Band, which plays Latin music. Additional performances took place in the Black Box Theatre of the PAC. The performers included Palmetto Bronze, Brazil Flavor and the duo Xin Jie and Sumire Worman.
Arts International also included an artisan fair. Different vendors and artists displaying and selling their crafts on Dargan St.. Some of the items for purchase were hand-made jewelry, knitted wreaths and hand-painted artwork. Along with the local artists, FMU’s history society, Phi Alpha Theta, held its annual used book sale.
The festival incorporated children’s activities throughout the day. Balloon artists made balloon animals and backpacks for the children attending the festivities. Balloon yoyos were also available for purchase. Throughout Arts International, there were musical performances, dance-alongs and storytelling events specifically designed for children.
One of the largest features of Arts International was the international food court, which had authentic Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Cuban and Greek cuisine.
“The international food court was amazing,” Benton said. “It had many options to choose from. The lamb from one of the Greek booths was amazing.”
Along with the food court, there was a beer garden that offered domestic and foreign drafts for purchase. International food cooking demonstrations performed by Victor’s, The Library, Cooking with Rocky, Brooklyn South, 1031 Grill & Taproom, and Taste of Spain were also a part of the international food court. Performances were offered once every hour.
“My favorite part of the festival was the food because to me, the best way to get to know a personal and their culture is over a meal,” said James Brown, senior Mathematics major.
The Florence-Darlington Technical College Welding Sculpture Competition took place throughout the majority of the festival. Welding students teamed up to weld “Star Wars”- themed sculptures. Teams gathered the necessary metal and began putting their sculptures together as the festival was underway. They worked on their sculptures until 4 p.m.
This is the second year that Arts International has been held in the downtown area. Prior to this venue, Arts International was held on the FMU campus. FMU was accompanied by several sponsors that made the festival possible. These sponsors include: The City of Florence, Honda of South Carolina, St. John’s Church, McLeod Health, Pepsi, Nan Ya Plastics, First Reliance, Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crown Beverages and The News Journal.