While many Airdrie residents are eagerly looking forward to the Canada Day parade on July 1, which is a staple of celebration in the community, July 1 will also be the date of Airdrie's inaugural multicultural festival - Airdrie CultureFest.

The festival, which is free to attend, will be held at Nose Creek Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and according to Kimberley Glass, a member of the Airdrie CultureFest committee, the hope is to transport residents across the world without needing to step foot on a plane.

"It's a chance for people from different cultures to come to find their own, but they may not even know exist, as well as bridge gaps between different cultures and educate people who may not even know that there are this many of us," she said. 

The festival will be set up in such a way that different continents will be represented in different areas.

"As you walk through Nose Creek Park, you'll come across Africa and then we have different cultural associations and organizations who would identify with that continent and their countries," she added. "You walk into Africa, and you'll see different performances, music, you'll see the fabrics of clothing vendors who participate; you'll see food. The idea is that you can walk the path and go from continent to continent experiencing different countries all within Airdrie."

Thus far, 15 cultural organizations and non-profits are participating, with the hopes that more will join. Glass added that the event is also seeking sponsors and donations as it is community-funded and any multicultural organizations that would like to join are welcome to as there are no registration fees. Glass who has Trinidadian roots is also a mother of three young children. She said that one of the things that spurred her to join the planning committee was her children.

"I have three young babies and they can automatically see their dad's roots everywhere; he's Caucasian-Canadian, but for my babies, to see my culture, it's usually with me or with my family," Glass explained. "Airdrie is home and I want them to be able to feel at home, [to] see their home and see similarities and differences."

Having grown up in England, Glass said she was very often exposed to diverse cultures, religions and foods.

"In doing so, I think it builds a sense of connection, a sense of belonging, and a sense of understanding that might be missing. It builds more of a community. For me, seeing my roots would be a welcoming piece, which is part of the event itself."

Glass said that part of the reasoning behind choosing Canada Day as the date for the inaugural event was twofold. 

"We are community-led [and] community funded; part of choosing Canada Day was to be able to apply for the grants that would help support the event. There was a good blending between Canada being a multicultural place and the grants," she explained. "Ideally, we would see this on Heritage Day. But why it's important this time around? Canadians come from all different backgrounds. I, myself am a new Canadian and I chose to be here, and I choose to bring what comes with me and that is all of me, that's my heritage. That's my culture." 

Other attractions for the event will also include food trucks with multicultural flair, as well as a beer garden that will be sponsored by a local business. There will be a variety of local vendors with all sorts of different items for sale. 

While Glass said the committee is focused on what July 1 will bring, she said their vision is to expand the event to include more organizations, with the possibility of marquee events. 

" [The event] is based on welcoming, showcasing and celebrating those differences." 

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