Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will host the fifth annual International Arts and Entertainment Variety Show & Food Festival on Nov. 10 and will be held in the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center at Cumberland. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a food exhibition and tasting followed at 7 p.m. by the variety show.
Local musician and educator Clara Atkins-Pope began the international program in 2008 upon the suggestion of the college’s President Dr. W. Bruce Ayers.
The food segment was added in 2010 and is headed by Carolyn Sundy, SKCTC’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.
According to Pope, the event in past years has featured dancers from Bangladesh, musicians from the Czech Republic, dramatic presentations from China, regional representations of Appalachia through music, photography and writings; works from the high art of opera and many more special presentations.
The food exhibit and tasting segment has featured culinary contributions from Nigeria, Angola, India, Bangladesh, Lebanon and the Middle East as well as from Scotland, England and foods from Central Appalachia.
“The mission of the International Arts & Entertainment Variety Show & and Food Festival is to celebrate the ethnic diversity that we find in Harlan County,” noted Pope. “Since the opening of the coalfields in 1913, Harlan County has been a unique melting pot of cultures, each of which came together to work, to build and to live in the now nearly extinct culture of the mining camp.”
Now, according to Pope, a new flavor has been added to the area. “Men and women of all colors, ethnicities and creeds learned to respect one another through the value of individual’s work and contribution to the coal camp community, but as the world-wide cultural palette of Harlan County shifted from mining camp to the medical field, we still see an impressive array of people coming to work here from other lands.”
The event is expected to provide an opportunity for people from all layers of Harlan County society to come together to share and appreciate the arrival of the new immigrants. “No wars, no confusion, just pleasure and thanksgiving for the diversity each family heritage brings,” said Pope.
The success and popularity of the food aspect of the festival, said Carolyn Sundy, owes much to Dr. Sheila Ahmad who has played a key role in helping spread the word about the festival. “Each year, Dr. Ahmad has helped us to come to know people in the international community who are willing to share aspects of their personal lives with us.”
Additionally, Southeast Professor of Music Ann Schertz, “Works tirelessly to procure musical talent as well as showcasing her enormous skills,” Pope said.
The roster of talent for 2012, although still “evolving” according to Pope, will include: Vocalist, Ryland Pope, presenting opera works and Stephen Collins Foster songs; dance performances by members of the Robyn Bingham Dance Academy, Sarah Ashley Sellers, dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy number from the Nutcracker, Bethany Cox performing the Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker, as well as performances from the Marzipan segment of the Nutcracker featuring Emily Evans and Lucy Bryson; Stephanie Smith, dancing the Copelia; Egyptian dances and the Dance of the Hours as done by members of the Heather Adams’ ensemble; Dr. Hassan Ahmad, harmonica with Greg Hollins on the bongo drums; Natalie Tomlinson, bluegrass fiddle, in the company of other local performers; Ann Schertz, hammer dulcimer; a performance by Chinese exchange students; vocals by Carl Smith Jr., Italian opera selection, Caro Mio Ben; Tammie Chapman, performing light gospel; Tommy C. White, vocals and guitar; Seth Murphy, Christian Rap and Clara Atkins-Pope, pianist and accompanists and also slated to play the Celtic harp.
“We are blessed in this community to have so many people who are interested in furthering understanding, tolerance and appreciation of cultures beyond our own,” noted Pope.
“We invite the public to come out for a magical evening, an evening they will likely not soon forget,” said Pope.
Individuals wishing to bring food, a vegetable, casserole, bread, cake, pie or candy, are asked to contact Sundy at SKCTC in Cumberland by phoning 589-3052, and for further details about the fifth annual event, contact Pope at: firstname.lastname@example.org.