PORTLAND — There’s good news for people who didn’t party enough at last weekend’s Old Port Festival.
The Bayside World Market and Fair will take place Saturday, June 13, at Portland High School.
The festival is organized by the School Department and the Bayside Neighborhood Association to celebrate Portland’s diversity and to welcome new residents through song, dance, crafts and, of course, food.
Several of Maine’s newest residents will speak about their life journey and how they landed in Portland, including Police Chief James Craig, who recently arrived from California, and University of Southern Maine Professor Reza Jalali, a native of Iran. There will also be two speakers from Iraq and others from Somalia and Cambodia.
Bayside Neighborhood Association Treasurer Tom Blackburn said Bayside is perhaps the most diverse neighborhood in the state, with more than 40 different languages spoken by its residents.
“It’s very rewarding to be a part of an event like this that celebrates the ethnic diversity of Portland,” Blackburn said. “A lot of immigrants have brought their talents to this country.”
The festival not only celebrates the cultures of Portland’s newest residents, but gives them ownership in the festival by giving immigrants a leadership role in the planning and execution of the event.
“A number of these individuals reach out into their community to bring this population to the fair as participants and as attendees,” Blackburn said.
Portland Housing Authority is assisting the planners with providing $1 vouchers for economically disadvantaged children under the age of 12 to help offset the cost of food and merchandise.
Blackburn expects this year’s the festival to draw at least as many people as last year’s, which attracted about 3,500. He said street performers will be playing in Monument Square shortly before the festival begins as a way to lure people down to Cumberland Avenue.
Free concerts will be offered on the PHS auditorium stage from 11:30 a.m. to to 4 p.m. A food court will be located near the high school atrium and children’s activities will be offered in the lower level cafeteria. Outdoors on Cumberland Avenue, meanwhile, there will be nearly 100 vendors participating in a flea market, selling everything from crafts, baked goods, art, jewelry and clothing.
Although the event costs about $12,000 to put on, Blackburn said admission is free thanks to public and private donors.
Masked performers at last year’s Bayside World Market and Fair. (Contributed photo)