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A celebration of Louisville’s diversity: WorldFest returns to the Belvedere

Dancers showed off their moves at Louisville's 19th WorldFest Saturday.
Breya Jones
Dancers showed off their moves at Louisville's 19th WorldFest Saturday.


The city’s international festival, WorldFest, returns to the Belvedere in downtown Louisville this weekend. 

To celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary year, organizers have brought in more than 150 food and merchandise vendors. There’s also the Parade of Cultures, plus three stages with live performances.

Mexico Lindo, a dance group specializing in different styles of folklórico dance, is one of the local groups on the lineup. Dancer Mariana Lane, 25, said this is an important event for the city because it’s all about representation.

“A hundred percent representation,” she said. “It's nice to go to one space and see multiple cultures, multiple kinds of people and all of them just representing their own way of life and their own food.”

According to Metro Government’s WorldFest website, more than 100 languages are spoken in Louisville, and people from more than 150 countries have moved here since WorldFest began.

"Cities that embrace and encourage their international citizens and cultures will thrive, have a stronger quality of life and will attract new growth and jobs,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement online.

Mexico Lindo dancer Amaya Lane, 17, has performed at the event since she was a young kid, and said it’s always felt welcoming to her.

“I love seeing other cultures and like what they have in store for other people,” she said, “and I just love showing the crowd our culture, the dresses and songs. It’s great.”

Emily Martin, with Louisville Metro’s Office of Special Events, told WFPL News the origins of WorldFest are traced back to the mid-70s, when the Chamber of Commerce started Heritage Weekend during the United States and City of Louisville bicentennials. That tradition carried on through the early 90s and the first “WorldFest,” originally a one-day event, launched after Louisville and Jefferson County merged in 2003.

Ken Clay organized some of the entertainment for this year’s WorldFest, and said this will be his 19th year working with the event.

“It's just an amazing event,” he said. “I really love seeing the entertainment groups that we have right here in our city, and it's like the world comes to the Belvedere.”

He’s particularly excited for the music lineup this year, with groups like River City Drum Corp, Lost Tribe of Louisville, Saw Peep Intercultural Orchestra and the Screaming Orphans expected to take the stage this weekend. 

In addition to performing, Mariana and Amaya Lane are looking forward to the food and seeing the other dance companies from around the region. Dance groups listed to perform at the event include dance artist Cheryl Pan, Keen Dance Theatre, Flamenco Louisville, Rakadu Dance Theatre and Nachale Bollywood Dance

You can find the full performance lineup here.

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