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The Ethnic Arts Festival, which runs July 19 and 20 in north suburban Evanston’s Dawes Park, brings out a plethora of live multicultural music, dance performances and craft work from 116 exhibitors and 15 food vendors from several continents.

The Ethnic Arts Festival, which runs July 19 and 20 in north suburban Evanston’s Dawes Park, brings out a plethora of live multicultural music, dance performances and craft work from 116 exhibitors and 15 food vendors from several continents.

Presented by the City of Evanston Cultural Arts Division and partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, the Ethnic Arts Festival turnout usually attracts up to 30,000 visitors. This year’s festival is open daily from noon-7 p.m. Kwame Awuku, a Ghananian contemporary artist of wood carvings, paintings and clay art, has traveled from Detroit for this event for four years straight, and will be in attendance this year too. “Just to see different people with art inspires me to go to the next level. You can see lots of different art from different cultures. There (are) other kinds of art going on in the world too.” EAF_man_dances__Photo_credit_Rich_Foreman_Photography__1.jpg

Gail Stamps, the African American knit artist behind Knotty Knits Design, will be attending for the first time this year. “After seeing the vendors that will be there from all cultures of life, it makes me very excited to be a part of it. It’s new for me, and I think it’ll be a great experience to get my work out there,” said Stamps. Naomi Echeandia, a Chicago native and the fest’s coordinator, will be attending for the first time as well. “This is my first year working at it. I’m really interested in arts festivals…I wanted to contribute to a great festival.” The idea for the festival was sparked in 1983 as part of Evanston’s goal to include the city’s minority and ethnic populations in local arts programming. In 1990, Evanston Mayor Joan Barr declared the third week of July as Ethnic Arts Week in Evanston. According to the 2000 Census, ethnic minorities make up nearly 35 percent of Evanston’s population, with 22 percent being African American. Each year, at least 22 different ethnic groups participate in the Ethnic Arts Festival, including Polish Americans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Garifunas, Native Americans, Nepalese, Zambians, Ecuadorians, Russians, Sri Lankans, Turks, Brazilians, Peruvians, and Czechs. ______ Photos courtesy of Rich Foreman Photography

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