Evanston celebrates two-day World Arts and Music Festival

Ahlaam Delange, Reporter

The Evanston World Arts and Music Festival returned to Dawes Park this year for a two-day event celebrating global diversity.

The Evanston Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department and Illinois Arts Council co-sponsored the weekend event and partnered with a variety of Chicagoland vendors. The free celebration featured food, art and performances from different continents such as Asia and Africa.

“It’s honestly a lot of fun,” said Marissa Rooney, the volunteer coordinator of Ten Thousand Villages in Evanston. “The vendors really put their heart and soul in the product that they work on, and that’s why I think this festival has always been amazing.”

Rooney said many residents are familiar with her Evanston-based shop, which she said is is one of the world’s largest and oldest fair trade organizations.

While not all vendors in the festival were fair trade vendors, some of the proceeds from the products sold went toward helping individuals in other countries. One vendor at the festival, Artisans of Ghana, sells artisan products from the country and helps the financial stability of artists and families in Ghana.

“I just love the fact that it isn’t like your typical street festival,” said Fred Locher, founder of Global Elements Trading Company. “People can come here and actually learn about music and the arts.”

Locher added that people can talk directly with artists from different countries at their booths. He said the event is great for meeting a diverse group of people. Locher, who said this was his first year at the festival, added that the festival was a great fit for him because he started selling more fair trade products this year.

Jessica Bowen, the sales and marketing manager of vendor Global Mamas, said Saturday started slow because of the rain, but she was grateful that it did not rain throughout the day. She said there was great foot traffic and many people were interested in her products.

“There are a lot of people here that are knowledgeable about fair trade,” Bowen said. “They are interested in being conscious consumers and making ethical purchases.”

Bowen added that more people are aware of and impacted by fair trade by having the local festival and creating the space for the products to be featured.

“Just by providing that market space and showing an interest in the bigger world and local crafts it’s great that Evanston is supporting that,” she said. “We knew that there was an interest in fair trade in this area and we are trying to reach new customers that are interested in what we do.”

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