Throwback Thursday: More than 30 years of the International Festival
Correction: A prior version of this story and the video above mention the International Festival will take place on Sept. 23. The date below has been amended to show the correct day as Saturday, Sept. 30.
The International Festival in Downtown Bowling Green has grown so much over the
past 33 years that it’s nearly too big for its Circus Square Park venue! Coming up
later this month, the Bowling Green International Festival is one of the area’s most
exciting ways to interact with diverse cultures each year. We thought we’d share a
little history of the International Festival before it gets here in a few weeks.
A couple other Bowling Green festivals during the late 1980s are the reason why
this one was born. First was the Ethnic Folk Festival in 1986, sponsored and hosted
by the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission and the Bowling Green-Warren
County NAACP. Then came the 1989 Japanfest that was sponsored by the Bowling
Green Chamber of Commerce. Together, the Human Rights Commission and
Chamber groups put together the first International Festival at Fountain Square
The events were held on Memorial Day for the first few years, but moved in 1992
after its new board of directors wanted the event to happen in the Fall to get more
participation from WKU students. The event began to grow a little more each year,
and was moved to the brand new Circus Square Park in 2008. Now, more than 10
thousand people attend the festival throughout the day.
As the event grew, more cultures began showcasing their artists and foods. And
more activities during the event and throughout the year have developed – like
poster and t-shirt design contests, coloring book pages available all year, virtual
performances, recipe sharing, selling Bowling Green restaurant discount cards, and
so much more.
This year’s International Festival is Saturday, Sept. 30 at Circus Square. A
nonprofit, a board and executive director plan the event throughout the year, and
Service One Credit Union is presenting sponsor this year.