Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival


Why 2023 Is a Special Year!

       "2023 is special at KCKCC because this year is the 100th anniversary of KCKCC!  What an incredible journey it has been which can be examined more closely by visiting the digital history mural of Wyandotte County and KCKCC in the upper level Henry Louis Building on the Main Campus.  

This year is special for the festival because during Spring 2020, Fall 2021, and 2022 the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are thrilled to be back having this festival!   It is amazing how a tiny COVID-19 virus made everyone rethink how to live their lives.  It is ironic that we all have been brought closer together to do the right thing for each other while isolating, wearing masks, and cancelling so many social gatherings during a time when over one million people lost their lives.  There are many parallels with the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 just over 100 years ago.  The big difference is that we have a remarkable vaccine that prevented an even more devastating mortality rate.  COVID-19 taught us about how fragile we are as a species, and the need to commit ourselves to better nutrition, clean air and water, a better health care system, and above all, peace.  These are global sustainability issues with zero degrees of separation.  We are like the Aspen trees, highly interconnected at our roots. 

The festival will recognize key individuals who have passed since our last event who were influential in starting the festival.  We recognize two scholars that had an enormous influence on the development of multicultural education at the college:  Dr. Morteza Ardebili, who was born in Iran, and Dr. Dolores Pinkard from KCK.  Both were college administrators at KCKCC who helped create the KCKCC Intercultural Center.  We also want to recognize the passing of Ed Chasteen, a former Legend of Diversity award winner and sociology professor from William Jewell College, who inspired the idea of having an ethnic festival based on the Human Family Reunion at his institution.  Chasteen influenced KCKCC Social and Behavioral Sciences Professor Melanie Scott, and former KCKCC Trustee Karen Hernandez, to initiate a plan to create this ethnic festival in 2005. We also want to honor Helen Folsom, who along with her daughter Bettse, were there from the very inception of the festival holding down the Irish cultural booth.   We also recognize the passing of Beverly May Pender, who helped found community gardens in KCKCC and for many years had a community garden booth at the festival.  She is the mother of Carolyn Marks who has been a food vendor for many years including this year.  

We also want to highlight the absence of our long time Slovenian culture booth representative John Soptick due to age related illnesses. We hope that he gets well soon.  

This festival recognizes that many have died and continue to suffer from horrific wars such as in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing Civil Wars in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Tigray War in Ethiopia, Sudan, the Houthi - Saudi Arabian war, Syria, Libya, the Tamil genocide by Sri Lankans, and the drug war in Mexico which took 50,000 lives in 2021, more than any other armed conflict in the world.  In the context of war, we also recognize all the journalists that have been killed trying to report what is really happening in these countries. 

Finally, we on the WyCo Ethnic Festival Board recognize the tragedy of human induced climate change that has brought on increasingly severe weather conditions and thousands of deaths.  This is a global reality that nearly one million people on Earth die each year from never previously recorded levels of weather frequency and intensity.  If this is not enough, there has recently been a terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria.  In the U.S. recently we have been hit with terrible tornados and floods which have taken many lives.  We hope that everyone will find a way to help those who are suffering from natural disasters.  In this context, we want to remind that the weekend after the festival, April 22nd, is Earth Day. 

       As always, this festival is a celebration of Wyandotte County's rich ethnic and multicultural diversity.  We are about Equity and Inclusion.  We are a family looking for our place at the table of human joy and happiness for life.  The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival is a place to meet at the welcome table.  It is in the spirit of Martin Luther King's idea for a Beloved Community to share the dream of solidarity, justice and peace.  There is no greater way to spread the vision of agape love than by practicing it in our daily lives and encouraging our one human family to play it forward to everyone we meet." 

 --   Curtis V. Smith, Ph.D. Coordinator, and Karen Hernandez, former President of the WyCo Ethnic Festival, April 2023.

Many Countries + Many Ethnicities = One Human Family

"We all came on a separate ship but now we are on the same boat"...Martin Luther King.