16th Annual Multicultural Festival
By Jennifer Ersalesi
On May 18th, the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission will be hosting its 16th Multicultural Festival (Rain Date: May 19th). The Multicultural Festival is a town favorite. People of all ages enjoy attending the festival and seeing various groups perform dances and songs from many different cultures. This is Rutherford spoke with Bea Goldberg, Chair of the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission and the Rutherford Multicultural Festival about this upcoming event, which will be held in Lincoln Park from 12:00 pm - 6:00 p.m.
TIR: This is the 16th year of the Multicultural Festival, to what do you attribute its success?
BG: The festival is a celebration of the common values we share as Americans. People love the diversity it brings to the community, through the colorful performers and music, international vendors and food. By working together, the festival encourages everyone to come together, share and participate in their rich culture, creating a loving and vibrant community.
The festival also sends out a strong message of love, hope and peace, and people appreciate that more than ever. We also have the support of our mayor, council, and borough, as well as the Bergen County Department of Parks and Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs Grant, the generosity of our sponsors, and our amazing audience, all contribute to its success.
TIR: Where do all of the talented performers come from? Are they all from Rutherford?
BG: Most of our performers are from Rutherford and other parts of our great state of New Jersey. We even have performers come from New York City. Grace Gold, our Emcee and Event Planner, does an outstanding job in securing a such a diverse group of performers and musicians from the local area. It is truly unbelievable how many cultures are represented in this wonderfully diverse area we live in.
TIR: The Multicultural Festival is the annual celebration of Rutherford Civil Rights Commission (RCRC). The RCRC was founded in 1964. How have you seen this organization grow over the last 55 years?
BG: This year the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission celebrates its 55th anniversary and continues its mission to eliminate discrimination, increase public awareness of civil rights through advocacy and education. It is the only civil rights organization in Bergen County and has been a valuable resource to town residents ever since. We provide information and referrals and offer conflict resolution services and mediation for civil rights matters. The Commission has always envisioned our community as one that fosters dignity, respect, understanding, and acceptance of all citizens. In recent news, our Education Chair Steve Way and Emmy Award winning producer and director Bill Einreinhofer have worked on the Rutherford Historic Narratives project (https://vimeo.com/rutherfordnarratives), which tells the story of our town through the stories of its families. We have also appointed disability and LGBTQ advocates on the commission. For more information, visit www.rutherfordtogether.com.
TIR: Who else participates in the festival other than the performers?
BG: We also feature food, shopping, and local vendors. Many of Rutherford's own community organizations contribute and participate in the festival, including The Friends of the Library, The Historic Preservation, The Meadowlands Museum, The Rutherford Education Association, The Rutherford Art Association, Felician University, The Academy at St. Mary, and Rutherford Pride Alliance.
TIR: Why do you think people of all ages enjoy the Multicultural Festival?
BG: We have something for everyone, and the entertainment is free to enjoy all day! It's great for the whole family! In addition to the live entertainment, we also have children's activities, raffles, arts, crafts, vendors selling jewelry and clothing, delicious international cuisine and classic fair food, and an outdoor beer and wine garden for adults 21 and over. Please join us!