Photos/Mike Newman

Experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the world! The Plano International Festival showcases and celebrates Plano’s rich cultural diversity, and this year marks the 12th year in the making.

MONEY Magazine recently ranked Plano at #3 on their annual list of Best Places to Live. One of the many reasons we topped their list was our diversity, stating, “…transplants have helped make Plano remarkably diverse. About 43% of residents are nonwhite, and 80 languages are spoken in its well-regarded schools.”

Check out the largest cultural festival in the area—over 20,000 visitors are expected to attend this year—on Saturday, October 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Downtown Plano’s beautiful Haggard Park. This unique event is filled with a cornucopia of offerings—art, culture, food, music, dancing, displays from over 100 cultures, kids’ activities, plus, the popular Fitness and Wellness Fair, and much more.

Special attractions this year include:

  • Foreign film screening at the Courtyard Theater featuring Gauru: Journey of Courage, an independent family film from award-winning director Ramkishan Choyal; in partnership with Indie Meme
  • Naturalization ceremony with 70 candidates being sworn in as citizens
  • New Yoga Court with yoga demos for everyone – kids, guys, acro yoga, and mind/body yoga; 1–5 p.m.
  • Expanded STEM tent where kids can learn about science, technology, robotics and more; in partnership with the UT Dallas Science and Engineering Education Center and Sci-Tech Discovery Center
  • Food trucks! Everything from boba tea to soul food.
  • A powerful, moving display from the Gendercide Awareness Project joins the Multicultural Art Exhibit in the Courtyard Theater
  • Used eyeglasses will be collected for donation to vision-impaired people in developing countries; in conjunction with the Lions Recycle for Sight Project.
  • The ever-popular Passports to the World encourage kids to visit country booths and learn about the language, geography, and other fun facts; sponsored by Rotary Clubs of Plano

Taste delicious ethnic food for sale in the food court and see beautiful traditional dress in the international fashion show.

The Fitness and Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Courtyard Theater, sponsored by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Plano, will feature free health screenings and flu shots for children and adults. Yoga Court will feature many types of yoga from 1 to 5 p.m., and the Fitness stage will feature slack line and hula hooping demos. The fair is being held in partnership with the Plano ISD Education Foundation.

A new recycling effort this year will be for used glasses (used reading and prescription eyeglasses and prescription and non-prescription sunglasses). The Lions Eyeglass Collection Booth and boxes will be located near the Gazebo stage and in the Fitness and Wellness Fair. All collected glassed, after a good cleaning at a Lions Recycling Center, will be shipped to developing countries where eye care is scarce. “We need everyone to donate their used eyeglasses,” said T. J. Johnson, PIFC Board member, Festival Mistress of Ceremonies and Lions club member. “In most developing countries, an eye exam can cost as much as one month’s wages and a single eye doctor may serve a community of hundreds of thousands of people.”

Visitors will have a unique opportunity to see and understand the challenges of inadequate vision care by attending a special screening of the independent film Gauru: Journey of Courage, which chronicles the herculean efforts of a poor shepherd boy in drought-stricken rural India as he struggles to help his frail, vision-impaired grandmother visit her maternal home one last time. This is the only portion of the Festival that requires a ticket, which can be purchased via the Festival website for just $5. The film will be shown at 2:15 p.m. in the Courtyard Theater. Read more here for more information.

Another new and powerful feature at the Festival this year will be a special exhibit from the Gendercide Awareness Project. a group that strives to bring attention to the ongoing worldwide travesty of female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, maternal death, and gross neglect of young girls and elderly women. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 117 million women are missing from the world due to these societal causes. The Gendercide Awareness Project has commissioned women in impoverished countries to make 11,700 baby booties, one pair for every 10,000 missing women. A portion of these booties will be on display in the Courtyard Theater as part of the Multicultural Art Exhibit.

The naturalization ceremony is always an emotional highlight, when new citizens take the oath and become proud American citizens.

Admission and parking is free. Food and a variety of cultural items may be purchased from vendors.

2016 PLANO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

When: Saturday, October 1 | 11 a.m–5 p.m.

Where: Haggard Park, Downtown Plano | 901 E 15th St., Plano, Texas 75074

Cost: FREE

For mor information, visit planointernationalfestival.org.

Colbea Smith

Colbea Smith is a young professional who grew up in Plano and loves the community she will always consider “home”. She is a proud alumna of Texas State University – Go Bobcats! – who spent most...