The Bowling Green International Festival will transition its celebration to a digital format due to concerns about COVID-19.
The festival has been a tradition in Bowling Green for nearly three decades. Normally held in Circus Square Park, the festival celebrates the diversity of the area through music, dance and food, according to the festival’s website.
The 2020 festival marks the event’s 30-year anniversary, according to Hannah Barahona, president of the festival’s Board of Directors.
Barahona said the decision to cancel in-person festivities was difficult. Factors taken into consideration were community health concerns, participation and financial limitations.
“A big part of our festival is hearing the music and people watching and that’s going to be hard to reproduce online, but we really want our vendors and performers and international community groups in our area to share cultural traditions,” Barahona said.
Because the board is in the early stages of planning, Barahona said that it’s hard to predict what the digital version of the festival will look like. Barahona said the board will try to replicate some of the traditions of the festival.
“I mean, it’s going to be a totally different experience,” Barahona said. “But I think the excitement that we have is that we can actually reach a wider audience in this format.”
Barahona said a large portion of the 2020 festival will be broadcast through social media. Some possibilities that have been discussed are livestreams and video series.
“A big part of our mission is to educate our community about the international groups that are here and so that’s definitely exciting that we could educate people that otherwise wouldn’t have come to our in-person event,” Barahona said.
Festival Executive Director Kim Mason said the board is two weeks into planning the digital event. Up until then, Mason said they were still planning an in-person event.
“A lot of the process will be very similar because my goal is to figure out a way to translate every aspect of the festival into a virtual environment,” Mason said. “So we will be working with bands, and dance groups, and the vendors which are vendors include food and merchandise and cultural displays.”
Mason said the festival board of directors will meet this week to discuss further planning.