(PHOTOS) Decatur hosts first international festivalSwaraajya Nrutya Tanda performs traditional Indian dance during the International Festival on the Decatur Square on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — Hundreds of people gathered on the Decatur Square on March 18 for the first Decatur International Festival.
The festival was organized by several local business owners in the city. Narit Narajit McCrary, owner of Siam Thai, and Adriana Park, general manager of D92, worked together to begin planning the festival initially. O’Sullivan’s, Rebel Teahouse, and Kelly’s Market also helped organize the festival. It was also presented by Decatur Tourism and the Downtown Development Authority.
The idea came out of a retail and restaurant meeting the business owners and managers participated in at Decatur City Hall.
“We were looking around, and we were like this is the most diverse group of people I’ve ever seen in a city hall,” Park said. “Narit says we should have an international festival.”
They began planning the festival shortly after that and have been working together since last summer.
“We wanted to make sure that it was big because diversity is so big in Decatur,” Park said. “We love diversity and we love inclusion. I just felt like we needed to properly celebrate that, so we put on this festival. We have been working together since July, and it’s finally come to fruition.”
“In Thailand, they have some festivals like this all the time,” McCrary added.
He hoped that people attending the festival enjoyed the event and could see the diversity of the city and feel welcome.
“I hope they enjoy it and come back next year,” McCrary said.
Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett kicked off the festival, along with the organizers, with biodegradable confetti poppers.
“I think this is one of those kinds of events that we can say we come together to learn and appreciate those differences so that we can know more, [and] we can live better together in harmony,” Garrett said.
The festival featured various food, artist and nonprofit vendors. Siam Thai, D92, O’Sullivan’s, Rebel Teahouse, Chuy’s Tacos, and other food vendors served tasty treats throughout the day.
There were also several performances throughout the day, including Korean drummers, Diom Prime, Bharatanatyam dancers, Thai dancers, and Irish tap dancers, among other performers. The night ended with a fireworks display.
“I hope that people can get an understanding of how the people of Decatur really are, and how people will really excitedly come together for an event like this no matter what effort you have to put in,” Park said. “I hope that there’s a greater sense of community.”
The festival turnout was better than Park imagined, she said at the end of the festival.
“This little girl from Bangladesh found a little Bengali flag, and she just was so excited, took photos with it, looked for people around her from Bangladesh,” Park added. “It was just the cutest thing to see somebody so young feel so accepted in a new place. That’s what I feel like Decatur does well. That was probably one of the best, most heartwarming moments for me.”
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