One of my favorite aspects of living in Columbus, Indiana, is the international diversity you find here. It’s very typical in any gathering of people at a public place in town to hear several languages being spoken. This diversity is primarily attributed to Columbus being the headquarters of Cummins, a Fortune 500 company that manufactures diesel engines and has a strong global presence. Since moving here just over a year ago, I’ve made friends from India, Russia, Sweden and Mexico.
You won’t just find a global melting pot here, though. It’s truly celebrated. One of the best examples is Ethnic Expo, an annual festival of food and culture that embraces Columbus’s international flair. We attended for the first time last year, and were stunned by the crowds and the fun. Approximately 35,000-40,000 people typically attend each year, and with good reason!
The biggest draw is the food. You’ll find authentic cuisine from Trinidad, Greece, Japan, and many other countries. Many of the food booths are staffed by local international clubs and organizations. I can’t wait to make a few new discoveries this year as we wander about sampling from the dozens of options. Nestled among the food vendors are shops and trinkets for sale. This year, we hope to buy our son an African drum to add to his ever-growing toy collection.
I’m also particularly excited about the music line-up scheduled. Just like the delicious food, there’s something for everyone, from classical to Hawaiian to conga. One of my favorite Indiana bands, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, will take the stage on Saturday at 6 p.m. They bring a great Hoosier sound, hailing from the hills of neighboring Brown County. You won’t be able to stop stomping your feet and clapping along, trust me. A full schedule of cultural performances is available here.
Other highlights include a parade on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and fireworks (weather permitting) on Saturday evening at 8 p.m.
Ethnic Expo runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8. Admission is free of charge. The festival is located in downtown Columbus at 2nd and Washington Streets. The main performance stage is in front of City Hall. I recommend parking in one of the garages along Jackson and Brown Streets, just west of the festival.
Photo courtesy of the Columbus Area Visitors Center.