Sugar Land’s annual celebration of the arts has a new twist as the city continues to highlight its diversity by way of dance, heritage events and musical stylings.
The city’s inaugural International Arts Festival will take place April 27 from noon-6 p.m. at The Crown Festival Park at Sugar Land, 18355 Southwest Fwy. Concluding April’s month-long celebration of arts and cultures within the city of Sugar Land, the free event will combine two popular events – International Festival and Kite Fest.
“We used to have essentially the same performers at each event, along with the same cultural food trucks, dances and more,” Sugar Land Parks and Rec Event Manager Briana Bachemin said. “It was a lot of similar things, so we merged the two in order to have a larger festival, since it can accommodate a much larger crowd.”
Multiple stages will burst to life with cultural performances from area groups, such as experienced students from Sugar Land’s Anjali Center for the Performing Arts and Creative Director Rathna Kumar, who will be performing traditional, classical and folk Indian dances at the festivities. The school had performed at Kite Fest and iFest since its inception.
“There’s a sense of loyalty to where you are. When you belong to a place like Sugar Land, there’s a sense of pride in belonging to a community that drives all of us,” Kumar said. “Being in this festival is incredibly special.”
Something for everyone
A cultural stage, an area for yoga and culinary arts demonstrations and the main stage – which will have live music serenading festival goers throughout the event – will make up three distinct sites for attendees to enjoy. Stilt walkers will roam the site enticing the crowd with their visual artistry and movement.
Throughout the event, attendees will be able to enjoy kite-flying lessons and participate in several on-site competitions. Competition categories include most unique kite, best onsite food vendor, poster art and chalk art.
“It’s one of the most fun festivals around that brings people together,” Kumar said. “It’s the child in us, and then it exposes people to cultures they may not have seen before.”
On-site activities available to festival will include demonstration areas, a culinary area, kite-flying zones and an activity zone complete with a rock wall, inflatables, storytelling, face painting, henna tattoos, craft booths and much more for the entire family. Concluding the festivities will be a daytime fireworks display.
“We’ve got the capability to add much more than we could in years past,” Bachemin said.
Together as one
According to Bachemin, Kite Fest brought roughly 10,000 attendees, while the International Festival typically drew about 5,000. This year, the city expects at least that many in a celebration of the city’s diversity, which came together following a year-long strategic project consisting of public meetings intended to garner feedback on how to address and mold future events.
“Everyone thought of Sugar Land as just a suburb, but then suddenly more people have come to live here. It’s basically an example of what Houston is, of what is a melting pot of cultures,” Kumar said. “You find every religion, color and creed you can think of living in Sugar Land. … We live with all these people from other countries who have brought such richness to our artistic environment, and I think the sharing of our cultures and the arts makes (this festival) crucial in bringing together people from different communities.”
Workshops in January, March and earlier this April gave the city opportunities to meet with organizations and performance groups that have planned Kite Fest and International Festival.
“We’ve had the concept in mind from the start, and wanting to use the new Crown Park Festival site played a large part in it as well,” Bachemin said. “We had everybody together so we could discuss what this new event would look and feel like, because we wanted them to have as much input as possible. There’s so many different cultures within the city of Sugar Land that we think it’s a perfect melding.”
Public parking will be available at the Brazos River Park and The Crown Festival Park at Sugar Land. Participants are encouraged to utilize free shuttles that will run continuously from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. from Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington Blvd., and University of Houston at Sugar Land, 14000 University Blvd. For more information about the event, contact Sugar Land’s Parks and Recreation Department at 281-275-2900 or visit sugarlandtx.gov/specialevents for a complete listing of events.